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Friday, December 20, 2013


by Tricia Knoll

Image source: HDRcreme

You have to pass it to get out of the bowl we live in,
to get to the abandoned school yard we’ve claimed as a dog park.
The hill is steep. Most walkers slow down by the showy red brick mailbox,
except for that woman who pushes a three-wheeled baby carriage.

The house is empty. First the fan in the third floor window disappeared.
Two bright yellow rent-a-trucks parked outside for three hot days.
The dainty Japanese maple in the cedar planter withered.
Leaves clog the front gutter. No one has raked the backyard.
They left a garden hose coiled like a brown snake
in a ceramic pot. The pump is turned off so the waterfall
water in the pond is green frozen slime. (I hope the cattails survive.)
Someone mowed the lawn in late November and pulled up wilted hostas.
I picked up a sodden newspaper months ago. Unlit Christmas lights
drape from the deck supports. The lady with the golden retriever
said it’s a foreclosure.

Nothing posted from the bank or a realtor. It’s the largest house
around. Not easy to sell, I guess. I thought someone ran a mail order business
on the first floor.  They put out flags for every holiday,
even St. Patrick’s Day. The house reminds me of an old green truck
that died on a back road so the disgusted farmer walked away wondering
how long it would take it to become a rusted-out derelict.
The man with the rescue boxer named Bridget says it’s a bankruptcy.
Vacant window-eyes stare down on us, not in judgment,
more like disbelief. The silence disturbs me.
Three teenage boys in hoodies used to shoot hoops out back.

What does a house that big sound like without people?
Does the furnace ever rumble to keep pipes from freezing?
Does wind tom-tom the picture windows? Pierce of tinnitus, a low whistle
in forlorn solitude? The next-door-neighbor heard one coyote howl
beyond the slatted fence, three answered back. Maybe mice moved in.
It would take a big family to fill that house.

I wish someone would put up a sign.

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet -- who passes by this house several times a  day. She runs up the hill but slows down at the mailbox. Her chapbook Urban Wild will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2014.