Monday, July 26, 2010

The Hole We've Been Digging

This week will not be a big one for posting here, as along with my brother and a cousin I'm helping my parents clean out the house they've lived in since I was in first grade. I'm sure that along with the excavation of papers and photos, there will be some emotional excavation, and I'm hoping to be able to keep my cool, remember it's not all about me, and actually be helpful to two people whose reduced mobility has forced them to go from a big house and yard to a small 2-bedroom apartment.

Some of what I'm imagining it will be like is in this poem by Michael Teig:

Since I've come home, put on all my shoes,
Watched lawns, frankly green and unapologetic,
Lick up to rickety hedges, the neighborhood houses

Come into focus cautiously, like something dropped
From the sky, like memory, the narrow street
Sleepless trees, the cars postered in leaves and pollen.

I've come home and the pond is back
In a slate suit, suit of hours. I dig in the yard
With a stick, stop at the grocery, handle produce.

My mother is older, more urgent, less assuring
As she tilts into the stove with a cigarette--
We're rarely as good at ourselves as we imagine

And this could go on for hours
While only the radiator has something to say.
It's always time for work here, about to rain.

In the street, people you don't know
Don't talk to you, though they say heaven
Is a place of great civility

Where a statuette of diligence
Stands straight up, or some other
Virtue too mystifying to account for.

I'd like to believe it entails not getting dressed
For a day or a week, the rain-soaked and bikini-clad,
The under-employed with a halo of bar-darts.

That it happens here, casual as undressing.
My companions come and go as they wish.
We lay down in the hole we've been digging

And it's a pleasure, really, alone or with a friend,
Rarely looking at each other, thinking
You hear the screen-door, some recollected music,

The river and lumber trucks racing out of town.
The past is mostly just that:
I watch it all a bit strangely.

Thirty years ago on this street, my father drove me home
In a blue convertible, wondering like all parents
If he could simply keep me alive.

In my childhood home, with the people who did keep me alive, I always tend to "lay down in the hole" I've dug, as I think most of us do. But I'll try to resist too much of that this week, as it's not me who needs the most help anymore.


edj3 said...

I wondered if that was what you meant on FB--these transitions are hard on all involved I think. I wish you peace and tranquility this week.

Amanda said...

My family moved around too often for me to be attached to any childhood home, but I *am* attached to both my grandparents' houses. I'm just happy that when my mom's parents decided to move to a ranch back when I was in late high school, one of my aunts took the old house, so it's still in the family.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, too, what you were up to. Hmmm. Good luck --

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

Good luck with your packing and moving. I'm sure it will be hard. My parents are starting to plan their move from the house I grew up in to their cabin on the lake, so every time I go home I have to organize and get rid of the things I'm still storing there.

Dreamybee said...

Tough job, physically and emotionally. I hope all goes well.

Trapunto said...

I salute you!

Care said...


bermudaonion said...

It's so difficult when our parents age. I'll be thinking about you and wishing you luck - I hope all goes well.

Ana S. said...

Best of luck with everything, Jeanne. My parents moved out of the house where I grew up earlier this year, and saying goodbye was so strange.

Jeanne said...

We all survived it pretty well and got all the important stuff done. Thanks for the good wishes!