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Lexington Poetry Month

The house my father built

When I was 4 & 5
I lived in a house my father built
in Top of the Ridge
next to a woods
200 feet above
the Little Miami River

I go back there
to sit on a fallen tree
I remember
climbing limber
young trees
maybe these
that have fallen
I climb high to make the tree lean over
lowering my toes to the ground
holding on, jumping as high as
the tree would take me,
the spring in its back
placing me back
down

I remember sitting on exposed rocks
pulling apart loose pieces;
shells, bones, coral: speaking their history
to my wide open ears
I was here. I am here
under these salt waters.
a small child finding her small place in time

dad left us
mom 5 months pregnant
with 5th child
I was 6
my only image is the
suitcase
gone from the top shelf
of the closet
an empty space the size of a
paper grocery
bag


5 responses to “The house my father built”

  1. Shaun Turner says:

    What an arresting and image-driven poem! I really enjoyed it

  2. Gaby Bedetti says:

    I agree with Shaun–the title, set-up, and final image all grabbed my attention.

  3. Larry Wheeler says:

    “The size of a paper grocery bag”. What a knockout punch. I know you’re always busy but
    dammit you should be writing more

  4. Amy Cunningham says:

    Love the outside/inside comparisons the reader can make in your poem! The house, the tree, the top shelf=all things being reached for. The fallen tree, underwater, baby in womb=all things grounded. I think the empty space and the loose pieces of rock create the tension in the poem.

  5. Thanks all for your comments and insights. It gives me a kick every time I read them. And it’s been several.

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