rooms in the house

Rooms in the House

If you live
in one house
long enough,
rooms go
through changes.


When I moved
into this place
all the rooms
had been
half painted
by the
previous tenant
who’d only
lived here a month.
Signs of disaster
were everywhere–
a mishmash of
busted up
an open can of
gelled paint
& dust
over everything.


I threw the
paint out
dusted things
off &
bought a
queen-size bed,
stuck it in
one of the
bedrooms &
for winter.


Spring rolled
around &
I traded
the queen-sized
bed for
more appropriate
for a man
living alone,
finished painting
the walls,
& moved
into the
other bedroom.


I set up
my desk
in the


Then my son
got out of
prison &
moved into
the bedroom
I’d started
out in.
He lasted
four months
& went
back to prison.


I shut
the door
to the
room he’d
been sleeping
in &
left it
shut for
a good
long time.


Women began
drifting into
my life again.
None of them
lived in
the house,
but they
left traces
of themselves–
curtains &
place mats &
table clothes;
a spice rack
in the kitchen
that’s never
been used.


My son
got out of
prison again &
showed up with
his children–
a boy five,
a girl two.
He split &
left them behind.
I turned the
two bedrooms
into kids rooms
& soon the
walls were
streaked with crayons
& the house became
cluttered with toys.
I slept on the couch.


Then a woman
came into my life
who did move
into the house.
For a time we
slept on a mattress
in the kitchen alcove,
but eventually I
bought twin beds &
put both kids
in the room
where the queen-size
bed had been;
the woman & I
took the other room.
I moved my
desk out of the
pantry into the
alcove &
turned the pantry
into a
dark room for
the woman
who was
a photographer.


The kids eventually
went back to their
mother &
their room became
the woman’s study.
Then the
woman left & I
closed down
both bedrooms &
put my desk
back in the
the pantry;
I slept
on the couch.


Eventually I
turned the bedroom
that had been
the woman’s study
into a
guest room
for the kids
when they
came to visit.


Then I had
some surgery & I
transformed the
queen-size bedroom
to accommodate my
first wife who
came up from
California to
see me through the
first few weeks
of recovery;
after she
left I
converted the
room back
into a
guest room.


Down the
line someone
new will
move into
the house,
& the
whole thing
will start
over again.

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