This Big Old House

Bought myself a big, old house
with a myriad of rooms; needed
it to accommodate all those I
wanted to please – it’s what I do.

Learned it living in a house full
of children – adults that were
children – do it to compensate
for never having been a child.

Raised my own family, bent
on making sure they had
their space, their autonomy,
they’re gone now, still can’t

quit – spend my days cleaning
up in the aftermath: so much
dirt to launder; need it to be
pristine so they’ll come back.

Bought this old house partially
furnished – remnants of lives
before me – the crumbs of past
denial hardened now, panicked

to imagine what petulance has
been drawn to their neglect,
becoming obsessed about the
infestation, erasing the past

confine myself to the main floor,
ignore the filth on walls – crayon
figures pleading for help – until
daylight reveals truth, and leaves

me no options but to toil harder –
cannot let these patterns repeat,
need to save the innocents –
this work is never done – refuse

to see that I am not responsible
for it all – project rage onto my
spouse (latest in a string of
targets) for the sin of taking

pleasure, when I cannot relax,
(everyone knows how to unwind
but me, Super Woman) feel the
compulsion to flee, but disability

allots me no recourse – thank
goodness for this big old house –
places to hide, be forgotten –
if it wasn’t for the old crone

who haunts my dreams, drags
me out of my spinning misery
forces me to extend myself,
meets me at the edge of calm

where tranquil waters soothe
my inner churning, and where
kindred spirits come to play,
and connections are real, and

I can roam freely, unattached,
until illness brings me back –
reminds me of my limitations –
that I have been eternally lost

in a house with many rooms
aimlessly wandering in hopes
or renewal, lost for so long
that I’ve forgotten how to let

go, and only in my dreams do
I find the freedom to walk away
and reclaim the life that awaits



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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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