In an Old House

Edith Snoek

Edith Snoek

I live in a house
without any history
My old joints tell more
than the joists & beams know
New wood cannot keep a secret
as it’s never learned to listen
planed green as it’s been
tho the lumber`man
called it kiln`dry

Those passing
through these doors
before me led dull lives
How would I know you ask?
Because they were carpet`baggers
They bought low to sell high
Moved on to buy low
re`paint re`carpet
and sell high

Not one murder
in this dull bedroom!
No bank`heists hatched
around this dining`room table!
Not that the owners never spoke
about such things Just not here
Investments are so dull
Not even a ravishing
by this fire`light!

I’m too old now
to find an old house
not to concoct mind you
simply to listen to the voices
of people with interesting tales
un`ordinary secrets to share
kept safe against tomorrow
floor`boards that still
creak in the night

“In an old house there is always listening,
and more is heard than is spoken.
And what is spoken remains in the room,
waiting for the future to hear it.
And whatever happens began in the past,
and presses hard on the future.” ~ T.S. Eliot

About Peter Notehelfer

I'm a retired people person who now finds the time to watch the little details of the world without worrying about being watched by anyone . . . I live on an Island north of Seattle with my wife named Ellen, a yellow dog named McGee, a yellow cat named Gatzby, and four fine chickens . . . I read fiction, bake bread, smoke salmon, and fish whenever the weather allows . . . Oh, and yes, I try to write a poem every day simply to avoid senility!
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7 Responses to In an Old House

  1. – and we’ve been in a few where floor boards creak in the night – who knows what happened there. We lived once near a house where someone had been murdered. No-one would buy it, it just stood empty for years.


  2. Such stories hidden those creaks . . . Wouldn’t you just love to know . . . Thanks for reading with a smile . . .


  3. HemmingPlay says:

    This is exactly how I feel about old houses, too. We live in one, and there’s something about knowing the stories of those who were here before, a few for 30 years or more. It’s as though we’re just the current caretakers of a place with a strong sense of who she is, and who is herself the repository of a sort of honor for the lives of 130 years of ordinary, extraordinary people. It’s like living in a library. But a living one.


  4. always wanted to bring an old dead house back to life – alas, an unfulfilled dream


  5. Romantic notions set down in your usual, lovely way, Paul, but old houses lost their romance for me somewhere between the time my husband and I bought this mold-infested place and now, when we’ve spent nearly as much as we paid for it, and still have to invest more before we can bug on out.


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