Houses Die Too (A Poem Inspired by a Discussion on Facebook)

Houses die too,
They have a lifetime of their own.
They are born of sweat and dirt,
Stone and metal and wood.
They are built with arms of sinew and muscle
Or arms of cables and steel.
The first caves were just as much home as any modern building
A welcome and gladdening sight at the end of the day’s work.
A simple one room cottage, a Cape Cod farmhouse,
Colonial or Frank Lloyd Wright, even a McMansion.
Single family, duplex, or apartment building
Someone calls them home.
“In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure dome decree”
Is the unspoken hope for each house we live in.
Even their facades mimic ours,
Their windows are the eyes to their soul.
Silent observers of the cycles of human life,
They become alive through the energy
Of those that dwell within them.
There is no part of our life story that a house has not seen:
Births, deaths, marriage and divorce, college, new job, outsourced;
Love and hate and sorrow and joy.
Child becoming parent, having a child of its own
Parent growing old and becoming a grandparent
Teaching the new children about life…and death.
And then, somewhere, another new being starts its journey.
A house that is not lived in seems scary or sad or should just be avoided
Because it’s not the way a house is supposed to be.
A house should have someone who cares about it, cares for it
So it becomes a monument to the passage of our lives,
A reminder of our own history.
Even the history of our nation is marked by our houses–
The White House, Mount Vernon, Monticello
“The house where Mark Twain was born” or “The Wright Brothers Home”.

But houses die too…
They have a lifetime of their own,
A finite amount of “being here”.
They fall in upon themselves, they crumble brick by brick
Or they die at the hands of developers who seek to replace them
With some other kind of house.
Their story ends, their eye windows are shuttered and closed.
They pass out of sight and out of mind,
To be remembered only as a place where we lived once upon a time
Because houses die, too.


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