Poem: Walls Like These

Walls Like These

The house is well preserved.
Fresh barn red paint, a garden
well-tended. Linen curtains grace the windows.

You can see a teapot. Cups with cotton napkins.
A small pot of flowers. Just inside the window.
Beyond the flowers, darkness.

You have lived inside walls like these.
Sat inside the walls in the darkness, looking out,
the facade fresh, perfect, no signs

of the jail you lived in. A jail
of your own brokenness, A jail that kept you
inside, from fear of the scars too bright, too raw,

sure that they could see.
Sure that they were somehow
scarless themselves.

You are older now, as you walk past these perfect walls.
The broken pieces have cleared your vision
you understand scars are common,

it is the unmarred who are rare. Perhaps extinct.
and so, as you walk past the perfect house,
you have an urge

to walk to the windows and throw them up,
letting the fresh air in and the prisoners out;
to open the door and yell, “Escape!”

“There is, you are, more beauty than you can see
in your pitted mirrors and darkened rooms!
And you, scars and all, are part of that beauty.”

A face shows up in the window. They wave.
I wave. I wave them out. They shake their head
and stay.

It’s a charade we play each day I walk past.
I wave. They stay. We both smile,
safe in our secret knowledge,
but less so than we think.

About this poem

I photograph a lot of windows. I think it is because that is how I felt once, on the inside, looking out, sure the world was more than I could take, sure it was a place I did not deserve.

Tom

PS: The picture is of the nearby Wilson Homestead. It’s a lovely old place. I took a Colonial Cooking class there once and they showed us the whole house full of 18th Century Antiques. They also run a used book store/antique shop out of a back barn.

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