This Old House

By Joy R. Wilson Parrish

There is a crack in the plaster that starts
in the corner up there at the ceiling (where the fairy lights used to hang).
I trace its travels with my thumb as it meanders down along
the edge of the Mississippi where New Orleans and
Lake Michigan connect
and watch it  turn near the hand print of a 5 year old dressed like
Harry Potter.
Your house was always Gryffindor.
Your sister prophetically claimed Slytherin
and Ravenclaw was mine.
Hufflepuff stood empty in the year the crack appeared.
The crack in the plaster dips and widens, flows past a shipyard of scummy
tape remnants where images of Lizzie McGuire and then Nick Jonas replaced
the vintage framed covers of Madeline and Charlotte’s Web and
Where the Wild Things are.
(I’ll eat you up I
love
you
So.) It
stops at the floor boards.
Wide, knotted pine planks worn pale by the feet of
160 plus years and
made sweeter in the last 18
are now festooned with glitter and blue nail polish,
covered with discarded socks and open trunks of
school supplies
and
coffee cups.
A single red high heel holds hands with a custom nike runner embroidered
KP &
CC.
Rhinestone fragments of
prom dresses and Halloween
chocolate kisses float
through
the air.
I try to catch them.
They slip through my fingers along with the years I am trying to
hold on to.
I remember holding you at 5 days old
in another old house with a foundation cracking well before
Katrina came.
The mud of the Mississippi filled the chinks in the floorboards
and shored up the levies of
my postpartum defeat.
My tears were a steady drip upon the
blanket given to my mother
by her own mother,
and then to me.
“I don’t know how to do this but
I’ll try to do my best”,
I said to you back then.
I hope I did,
I still don’t know.

I wrap that old house memory in the satin of your first recital dress,
push it to the back with the volleyball medals and
make room for the waterfall of notebooks and ink pens and
Starbucks cards hastily packed.
I still don’t know what I’m doing but I’ll try my best to
let you go
with grace.

I listen as the crack in the plaster ticks and
tocks,
then the dust settles down.
And this old house that has watched you dance and
watched you grow
watched you dream and watched you fly,
Now
in its everlasting wisdom,
watches me,
as I watch you
step on to the floorboards of your brand new life.

(for Kelsey)

© 2015 Joy R. Wilson Parrish

Joy R. Wilson Parrish resides on the shores of Lake Michigan with an assortment of rescue animals and, occasionally, her two college-aged daughters. Along with her two collections – Sojourn and Rust – her poetry has been published in journals worldwide.

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