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"House" by Billy Collins

I lie in a bedroom of a house
that was built in 1862, we were told—
the two windows still facing east
into the bright daily reveille of the sun.

The early birds are chirping,
and I think of those who have slept here before,
the family we bought the house from—
the five Critchlows—

and the engineer they told us about
who lived here alone before them,
the one who built onto the back
of the house a large glassy room with wood beams.

I have an old photograph of the house
in black and white, a few small trees,
and a curved dirt driveway,
but I do not know who lived here then.

So I go back to the Civil War
and to the farmer who built the house
and the rough stone walls
that encompass the house and run up into the woods,

he who mounted his thin wife in this room,
while the war raged to the south,
with the strength of a dairyman
or with the tenderness of a dairyman

or with both, alternating back and forth
so as to give his wife much pleasure
and to call down a son to earth
to take over the cows and the farm

when he no longer had the strength
after all the days and nights of toil and—
the sun breaking over the same horizon
into these same windows,

lighting the same bed-space where I lie
having nothing to farm, and no son,
the dead farmer and his dead wife for company,
feeling better and worse by turns.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
robert_planties
Nov. 2nd, 2005 03:52 am (UTC)
billy collins is one of my favourite poets =D i have a few of his books.
delicata77
Nov. 3rd, 2005 05:32 am (UTC)
Really?
I had not heard of him until yesterday morning.

ma_coeur_noir
Nov. 11th, 2005 07:43 am (UTC)
::sigh::
Ahhh...when you hear poetry on the radio, you know it's going to be a wonderful day. Life is, simply, better.

Billy Collins was the poet laureate from 2001-03.
He's and interesting guy.
delicata77
Nov. 11th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
Re: ::sigh::
Poetry's on every morning before Fresh Air on the NPR station in my town.

ma_coeur_noir
Nov. 17th, 2005 02:11 am (UTC)
Re: ::sigh::
That's fantastique!
How lovely.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )