There’s few things more dangerous to an old house (or any structure) than water. As the heavens opened again a few minutes ago, and water plunged merrily from my overflowing gutters, I thought of how I used to watch the rain anxiously in my old house, as it tended to come through the porch roof. Moisture is the enemy – put a good roof on a building, and it can last forever (in many situations).
And then I thought of all the forlorn and abandoned houses I come across in my line of work, and how the rain pushes as their very moorings to this earth, urging the walls and windows and doors to give in, to collapse, so that the house gives up its footprint, and the earth reclaims that spot.
There’s a poetry in abandoned houses that speaks to almost everyone. I seek out the stories of buildings, which sometimes takes some sleuthing, but an old house, crouched by the side of the road, defying the weather and time, and stubbornly clinging to whatever dream caused it to become material – I think that music is loud enough to make anyone wistful and a bit sad. So on this rainy afternoon, here’s a poem I especially like, and some of the beautiful and ghostly poems made manifest that I’ve been lucky enough to experience.
I have come to love slowly
how old houses hold themselves—
before November’s drizzled rain
or the refreshing light of June—
as if they have all come to agree
that, in time, the days are no longer
a matter of suffering or rejoicing.
how they take on the color of rain or sun
as they go on keeping their vigil
without need of a sign, awaiting nothing
more than the birds that sing from the eaves,
the seizing cold that sounds the rafters.