Houses

We are all houses,

maybe.

We are all made of locked doors and hallways,

rooms stretching as far as the eye can see.

We invite each other in,

open doors and wait for the dust to settle.

There are paintings lining the walls,

and we are all fumbling for the lightswitch in the dark,

and some of the doors don’t have keys anymore,

and some of the doors don’t need them.

 

There are doors I don’t open,

spaces where the good and the bad live,

undisturbed in what they are,

and I am home to them.

 

I am a ramshackle cottage, maybe,

or the rotting ruins of an empire,

or a graying motel on route 303,

or a thick-banistered colonial, built

in the 1930’s, to house a writer.

I have a fence made of kitchen doors and sundials.

I have brick walls, with weak spots,

where you can peek through

and catch glimpses,

but the center of myself is well guarded.

 

We are houses,

maybe.

Or, maybe, we are desert sand

lit from behind by early moonlight.

Maybe we are all small trees,

spry fingers stretching for sunlight they will not reach,

roots sinking, gnarled, tangled, ancient,

deep in wet earth,

the tips of us traveling for miles.

 

Maybe we are built out of leather or flower petals or rose quartz or iron.

Maybe we are tectonic plates.

Maybe we are always sliding.

Maybe we are finally still.

Maybe we are, or maybe we aren’t.

Maybe we are all faded carpets

in a forgotten room, in an empty house

built for all of us,

with the light falling perfectly through the windows.

 

But, then again, maybe we are still those houses:

Little, perfect houses in

neat, polite rows with

fences to keep the dog and his teeth inside.

Maybe there are cities of us in a million different colors.

 

So, maybe, we are houses,

and winks are shutters opening

for a single moment.

Maybe, the centers of us are as sacred

as bedrooms and churches,

and when you walk my halls

and feel the dust on the picture frames under your fingers,

there will be things behind locked doors

that make your heart break or beat faster.

Maybe letting people through those doors

is dangerous

and frightening

and, maybe, love lives

in the center of us,

with all those rooms full of broken and beautiful things.

 

But, maybe,

a house is still too small

for all that we are.

We are all a universe,

maybe.

Charlie Leppert