Sunday, December 18, 2005


This morning, as a stay in bed sick with the virus my son passed to me, I am grateful to be in my first home. During our graduate school years, we lived in an array of bad rentals. One of our last rentals was an actual house, very quaint, but had many faults. And just before we moved to North Carolina, they kicked us out so they could sell it. So we lived in another rental house for eight months. We didn't think we were quite ready to buy a house when we were moving to NC, so we were renting a house yet again. TWO WEEKS before the move, the landlord called to inform us that he sold the house (with our lease and uncashed check in hand). We jumped in the car, drove the 9 hours, and bought the house we are living in now. The other night I had a dream that we were being kicked out of this house, people with video cameras were looking in the windows. When I woke up, I realized that for the first time, that is not possible.

Here is a poem I wrote about that "quaint" house in Alabama . . .

Blue House in Summer: Irondale, Alabama
J.B. Rowell

Languid porch stretches
across the front with jasmine
growing and twisting
up columns, and into the roof
that was one of the first
to landscape this railroad town.
The mayor lived here,
they say, and his daughter
who became the town’s only
piano teacher. She lived here
unmarried until ninety.

Stepping into the life
of a house, passing ghosts
of years, shoulders brush
in the halls with crooked lines.
The weight of history
sloping floors, windows
blackened by a fire, or simply
the darkening of age.

Shock of Southern heat
bleaches shingles, drives bugs
into the cool, slaps you across the face
when you walk out the door,
keeps you off the porch,
out of the vast yard
and into the house
whose windows
won’t open.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there such things as good rentals? Nice poem came out of it. Feel better soon. n

11:13 AM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger reniebob said...

Very nice poem! And I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm from the South. You should send this one to Sue Walker.

8:14 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Michelle e o said...

This reminded me a little of one I heard on NPR one day, it was a Billy Collins about his bedroom and all the people that had lived there before.

Hope you get better soon. Isn't it remarkable how our bodies wait until the kids get better to finally give into it?

10:51 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Michelle e o said...

Whoops, I really liked the poem, forgot to say that!

10:52 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thanks n, Irene, and Michelle,

No n, there is no such thing as a "good rental" in my experience! Thanks.

Thanks Irene - you may be a bit biased . . . :)

I'll have to track down that Billy Collins poem, Michelle, thanks.

And yes, my body was also waiting to be off school for two weeks to give into this bug - what a way to start my break!

11:13 PM, December 18, 2005  

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