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Dust

.

I gaze upon the room,
and lifetimes spent here
shift across my vision.

I cross the creaking
floorboards, hay-covered,
and open spaces gape up
at me like some wide
and toothless grin.

I grope along walls
all newsprint papered,
fingers peeling back
a layer of years,
and the yellowed records
of days gone by
leave 
their handprints on me.

I breathe in the dust
of so many lives past,
and their memories,
floating 
in the air around me,
swirl ‘round and then,
catching in some slanted ray,
shine one still moment
and flutter silent
to the ground.

.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Beautiful. Don’t you wonder about places like this? It’s sad to think of all the happy moments that were spent in these rooms, gone and most likely forgotten.

    July 6, 2011
    • Yes! This is a house I discovered while driving around in the country while I was going to college in Radford. The air was thick with the remnants of lives that had lived there (I wrote the poem way back then, just polished it for here).

      I could always imagine babies and people talking and men coming in from the fields for lunch. Whole lives lived in the same house, and others more temporary.

      We were certainly trespassing, but for me, it was hard to pull myself away from all that residual energy. I’m so thankful to have a few photos (and other souveniers). I’m sure that house is long gone to dust itself by now.

      July 6, 2011
  2. Oh this was really moving… it saddens me so much to see farmsteads disappear into housing tracts. I’m going to forward this to my friend, who spent the weekend with his family cleaning out the old barn and preparing to rebuild it.

    July 6, 2011
    • That’s so nice- I’m glad you think it’s worth sharing. Sometimes you can just feel the history of a building, like a kind of vibration. We had an old barn on the property where I live now, that fell down a long time ago. It made me so sad that it was gone – so many memories, and it wasn’t even a proper barn. But it smelled of alfalfa hay and wood and tractor…

      July 6, 2011
  3. I love to photograph old homesteads. When I travel out west I am always so excited when I see an old soddie or farmhouse from the first settlers. You can’t help but wonder at the people who lived there and what their lives must have been like, and all the hardships they had to endure. Whose lives were those? What was happiness like for them? What stories does the house hold? It makes me want to go back in time and be invisible for one day just to find the answers.

    I do so agree with you about being able to feel the “history of a building, like a vibration.” I believe larger places also hold that energy. When I drove through northern France on the way to the English channel years ago, I had such a feeling of heaviness and sadness. Within half an hour we came upon our first WWI memorial and realized we had been driving through fields where soldiers had lost their lives in the trenches. I also had a similar feeling driving to New Orleans once, and could almost feel the oppressive “footprint” of years of slavery. Maybe it was all in my head, but there was something very sad in both places.

    July 11, 2011
    • I tend to believe that it wasn’t in your head, especially if you found out where you were afterwards. I don’t know that it’s ghosts or spirits, I’m not sure what I believe on that front. But I do believe in a kind of collective energy, that something not really definable that connects all things in the world. It feels to me like a string sometimes. Other times it’s more like a fog that saturates.

      I was talking about everything that exists eventually breaking down to the atomic level in Infinity Reveals Itself, and I like to think that there is some kind of memory that breaks down and re-distributes, but does not disappear. Maybe that’s why we unexpectedly feel certain emotions when we visit some places – it’s the memory of other people’s emotions, the love or fear or sadness or hatred that hasn’t quite broken down completely yet.

      July 11, 2011

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