Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Is a gigantic puzzle of your life that falls apart
and reassembles in new definition after an obsessive
period of exhaustion, relentless dust and chaos --
in every box, memories, mistakes, good things
that turned out happily, aberrant realities.

Sixteen years in a house that we just sold pushes us
to plan B, our first house, add a bedroom, floor the attic,
stuff things up there like the press archives, love letters,
junk, tax records, and we'll pray the ceiling holds
until the old/new house becomes the cornerstone

for a sky scraper. I have been figuring out the puzzle
with tape measures, and labels. I start with 25 book cases,
add couches, desks, big pieces of furniture, computers --
then fill in thinking occasionally what a room will look
or feel like. Tomorrow I will think about placing art.

That makes me realize I have to get rid of things
that don't fit, make the new space crowded, or ugly.
We'll be living in the old/new house differently than
we did sixteen years ago. The living room will
be an open studio, the front bedroom will be an office.

The huge old bedroom will be a new living/dining room.
The carport will be enclosed to make a new bedroom.
The old office will be a jewelry workshop, book
shipping room with a guest bed and rows and shelves
for inventory. The bed will rest on boxes of books.

We live in a tangle of work, art, bedding and crockery --
but have collected along the way some of my mother's
beautiful furniture, grandmother's antiques, and books
no one in my family for five generations has been willing
to release, favored pages.

Tonite I went though several book cases and found
two small boxes of books I'm willing to part with.
We have to make a tall fence to keep in three dogs.
Logistics are going to be bewildering. I will maintain
control of the process as long as possible, then dig out.

I have to find some young people to help with preliminary
lifting. Movers will do the furniture. We can't do it all.
Our old/new house is a sweet South Austin wood frame
house with an apartment in back. There's a porch and an
arch between the front and middle rooms.

You enter the new living room, which was the old bedroom,
through French Doors and exit thru a second set of
doors out to a courtyard, which used to be at the edge
of a huge garden we called our urban farm. What's
left is a pecan tree which grew from compost more than

thirty years ago. It shades the back yard.
A behemoth condo project is growing along the back
fence of every house on the block, a small city with window
eyes. We will plant evergreen, fast growing Loquat trees
to hide behind when summer foliage is down.

The new old house is radiant with light in every room,
has always been blessed by a friendly spirit whose
name is Rebecca. We'll put the new garden in the front
yard, and an arbor to welcome guests who will visit
our open studio for icons and books. We'll plant roses.

I'm going to use my great grandmother's High Boy and
Father's Governor Winthrop Desk in the studio.
Tomorrow I will finish cleaning out the drawers of the desk.
I stopped when I found Aunt Helen's long scroll of
memories written on the back of gold wrapping paper —

She gave it to Mom and Dad for their fiftieth anniversary.
I'll have to do something with the container of hearing
aids and mother's bridge. I have a broken tooth and will
have to spend several thousand dollars for a new bridge.
You don't suppose her's would fit me? The idea makes

me cringe. For some reason I haven't been able to clear
out the stuff from her desk, which used to be my father's.
Now it's ours. I'll bury some of Mother's things in the new
garden, or alongside Rebecca's old roses. This is a good move,
backwards and forwards both, old and new.

©Susan Bright

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Curse of stuff
Moving is great fun.
You have all this stuff.
Once upon a time I had only a duffle bag of stuff.
Then I had two duffle bags of stuff and a motorcycle.
I kept trying to cut back on the stuff.
Much of it was important stuff.
I would also loose my stuff and rediscover it.
I got to one pickup truck load of stuff at one point .
That was after the garage full of books that no one wanted not even Half Price Books. The house full of furniture left a lot to be desired. And the important things built up to such a pile that everything came tumbling down.
I started tossing it all away.
Then suddenly people started to die and I got more stuff.
Furniture that you can't thow away.
So I ended up with three houses full of stuff.
I keep buying more stuff too.

There was a tribe of people who burned all their things ever ten years and started over. That might be a good idea.

10:50 AM  

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