My House Now
At the time it seemed a thing endured forever,
the now fading fragments of childhood, then barely begun,
that crawled to me on hands and knees, bearing drama
authored by your hand, plotted for your games.
But the turning of time turned years into decades,
those twenty or so years lived under your roof,
when I gradually began to notice notes you replayed,
words you tossed on the table like trump cards
that always won the hand, the game, the day.
As long as I took my shelter within your rented walls
where contests were rigged and your victories cinched,
you made it unmistakable that a life inside your house
carried the cost of obeying your whims and your rules.
Those days of dominion, of proving who was boss,
they came in the fullness of time to inevitable end.
I came into my own house, my own rented rooms
where all the shots were finally mine to call.
Neither of us would have wagered on the coda,
the finale that turned the tables just for me.
I had no yearnings, no inklings, no cautionary counsel
motivating me to purchase those slivers of land,
those slips of grass and dirt, four in a row,
just broad enough at the necessary groundbreaking
to host casket and vault and the slab of a headstone.
It was circumstance fashioned in the asking of favors
by family frantic to know where they would rest.
In this modest manner, I joined the landed gentry
with my quartet of plots in that gated community.
It all seems so apropos to look back on it now,
that you would be the first tenant, yours the name
first on the short list of residents in that dirt.
Who else would be landlord but me, your son,
your firstborn, your dissimilar namesake?
I alone saw in this unavoidable occupancy
what the fates had finagled as only fates can.
I stood there in silence at the edged excavation,
unsure what to make of the speech on my lips
that gave a voice to the last word, finally mine.
Once upon a childhood, I lived in your house,
just a decade or two. In the end, not so long.
Not nearly so long as the lease in your name,
one began on that day at the lip of your graveside
and the terms it imposed to the last of forever.
You live in my house now.
About the Poem
This poem revisits an element of my relationship with my father. He was a man of very strong will and did whatever he felt was necessary to maintain control over people and situations. In my childhood, that often meant a reminder about his so-called "Golden Rule" in which "he who makes the gold, rules." He was also quick to point out that living in his house meant living by his rules. But events that came after my childhood left me in the rather ironic situation of those tables having turned.
This poem is previously unpublished in print. This poem was finished January 31, 2013.