Poem: This House is Built

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This House is Built

The house is built
on posts and beams.

Thick, hand-hewn posts of local cedar,
the beams as big crossing space,
held together by a single peg
since the early nineteenth century.

You’d not know it’s age to look at it.
Windows have been replaced.
Walls torn asunder and replaced.
There is plaster and electricity,
all the modern conveniences.

But in the end,
it is post and beam.
Incredibly, solidly constructed
in such a way that space is spanned
and everything between and underneath
can be ripped out and replaced,
renewed and reworked,
becoming new again
without losing its strength.

About this poem. 

My house is a post and beam house, built, according to the deed, around 1800. It was redone at least twice, in the 1920s and the fifties or sixties. When I bought it, it was a duplex, and the first thing I did, 24 hours after moving in, was knock out walls to make it a single home. In theory, I could rip every wall out and rebuild from scratch. I could, but I won’t. I like what it is.

I have an affinity for old homes, and post and beam construction in general. So strong, and yet so full of possibilities. It’s what I want my life to be.

Tom

PS: The picture was taken at Hancock Shaker Villiage in Massachusetts.

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