Our family was a movable community
squatting in house after house
never suitable and never ours.
Each new vicarage was a thrill
but icy or haunted or just too small
they never were homes for our mother, not at all.
Imagine moving, moving, moving
seven times in fourteen years
gathering daughters along the way.
And then it stopped. We stopped
and we gained a home and we snuggled in.
Our mother glowed when she spoke of it.
“It grew from the earth like a mushroom.
“It has eyebrows, as it should.
“A stream runs through the garden
“beside a weeping elm.”
The day we arrived I broke a useful thing
and just for a moment, my mother also broke.
She showed me how profound
the ache for home could be.
She showed me how to love and honour
and obey a refuge and a home.
And even now I mean these words:
“Du. Tu. Thou.
“I say to the house, thou house.”
Rachel McAlpine 2016
This poem is a late-life retake of two early poems: Periwinkles in Uniform, about the constant moving from vicarage to vicarage, and House Poems, a series of love poems to the first tiny house I owned. Finally I see that they are two halves of a whole. CC BY 2.0