The Old, Old, House
by Will Pennington
The old, old house stands brooding, silent, empty, shuttered.
Peeling paint, peeling memories, peeling years, decaying.
Squeaking gate unhinged, cracked stone steps, black holes gape between them,
Give way to wild rose and dandelions, crabgrass, spurge and apples.
Skinned shins on broken porch boards; cobwebs make me shrink.
Ancient knocker of green-tinged brass, dolphins dancing on their tails.
Quiet the knocker, there’s no one home, no need to break the spell.
Inside, dark, the stairwell creaks beneath soft steps; why am I so quiet?
Master bed and rusty springs, rusty tears discolor the sink.
Cloudy, cracked mirror hides its faces, nothing there to see.
Floorboard creaks and, moved aside, a shaft of light reflects.
Beneath, boy’s treasure, cigar box full of baseball cards, a whistle, and a
Bedrooms, closets, attic, nursery; musty smells of youth grown old.
Quiet again, I tiptoe down the stairs; who might I awaken?
The heart of a house the kitchen, mama’s voice the rhythm;
Rolling, kneading, slicing; mixing, baking, roasting; nourishing.
Holding hands around the table, they bowed their heads and prayed:
“Give us this day our daily bread, we thank you for your blessings.”
The old, old, house holds nothing now, even memories have fled.
Outside, I wave, and the great machine surges, wrecking ball swings
And as the old, old house’s back is broken, I know I hear it cry.
In my hand the cigar box treasure; I’ll take it home with me. Home. With
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me in 1971, 12 years old. Some time after I joined the Navy, my mom collected and stored my personal belongings, including the treasure box I had when I was 12. I found it in a cedar trunk in 1997, after my mom passed away.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “The Old, Old House” to convey the sense of loss we feel when returning to a place we once lived. Every home holds memories of the lives that it sheltered, and the hearts that ached and laughed within its arms. An empty, forgotten home yearns for light and laughter. An empty, forgotten home yearns for souls to shelter while they grow. Empty, forgotten homes are sad sights because we remember our own homes and why we loved them. I know that a house is a home and that it remembers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Will Pennington retired from the U.S. Navy in 2006. Prior to joining the Navy, he traveled the world with his parents while his dad served in the U.S. Air Force. In 1959, his mom smuggled him abroad from Homestead, Florida, and gave birth to him in Ankara, Turkey. Will’s parents unwittingly nurtured his lifelong love affair with literature and writing; his mom rose early on Sundays so she could beat Will to the crossword puzzle; Will occasionally let her win. Dad didn’t mind, as long as the rest of the newspaper remained unwrinkled. They both advised Will to put his books away, turn off the flashlight, and go to sleep so he would grow up big and strong and become a famous writer. He’s still working on that last bit. Will’s writing has been published in Community Orange Magazine and The Sundial Review. Four Feet Down is his first book. Today, Will writes of his life as an Air Force brat and career Sailor, and of his observations of human nature throughout the world he has traveled from his birth. His writing reflects a cosmopolitan view of life. He calls the world his hometown, Tampa, Florida, his home of record, and Saint Leonard, Maryland, his current residence, where he resides with his wife, Jayne Michiko Ono, and their three Great Dane/Labs, Tobi (wan Kenobi), Yoshi, and Yukio. Will publishes essays and poetry on his blog at writersenvy.me. You may also read Will’s work on Facebook: facebook.com, and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com. Will’s work in the anthology Four Feet Down is available at amazon.com.