A Locked House

Abandoned House
Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine
by Alan Weiss

As we drove back, crossing the hill,
The house still
Hidden in the trees, I always thought—
A fool’s fear—that it might have caught   
Fire, someone could have broken in.   
As if things must have been
Too good here. Still, we always found   
It locked tight, safe and sound.

I mentioned that, once, as a joke;   
No doubt we spoke
Of the absurdity
To fear some dour god’s jealousy   
Of our good fortune. From the farm   
Next door, our neighbors saw no harm   
Came to the things we cared for here.   
What did we have to fear?

Maybe I should have thought: all
Such things rot, fall—
Barns, houses, furniture.
We two are stronger than we were
Apart; we’ve grown
Together. Everything we own
Can burn; we know what counts—some such   
Idea. We said as much.

We’d watched friends driven to betray;   
Felt that love drained away
Some self they need.
We’d said love, like a growth, can feed   
On hate we turn in and disguise;
We warned ourselves. That you might despise   
Me—hate all we both loved best—
None of us ever guessed.

The house still stands, locked, as it stood   
Untouched a good
Two years after you went.
Some things passed in the settlement;   
Some things slipped away. Enough’s left   
That I come back sometimes. The theft   
And vandalism were our own.
Maybe we should have known.

~ by W.D. Snodgrass
 from Selected Poems, 1957-1987



gz said...

An abandoned house is sad, waiting to care and be cared for.

Looks a little like the older style of houses here in Aotearoa

Adullamite said...

That hoose is better maintained than mine....

J Cosmo Newbery said...

There is an eerie mix of voyeurism and being in a sacred place when you wander through a long deserted house.

Lee said...

So many stories that will probably now remain untold sheltered within its walls.

goatman said...

"We’d watched friends driven to betray" -- how true.
Very apropos and fitting.

Pauline said...

Made me weep, RDG. Happy New Year all the same.

red dirt girl said...

It is a sad one, Pauline - Happy New Year to you as well!

Alan Weiss did describe the abandoned house as eerie and full of ghosts. He said it looked as though one day its inhabitants stopped whatever they were in the midst of doing and ... left. He was with a group of friends backpacking and it was cold and rainy. Even though the abandoned house would have provided shelter for them, all decided it was best to pitch tents and brave out the cold rain. A house can do that to you - make you feel unwelcome.

Happy New Year, All!

goatman said...

I certainly would have been in that house, making it happy with my presence -- me with its-- and a bright cheery fire to ignite both of our spirits . ..

red dirt girl said...

Oh every girl needs a goatman to scare the shadows back into their corners!!