We moved into my parent’s new home when I was 12 years old. There was this neighbour who lived in the house adjoining ours. Word in the neighbourhood was- he was an old man who lived alone and wasn’t very nice. The neighbours avoided him and the children were terrified of him. It didn’t make matters any easier, the fact that he was the only resident of a 6 roomed duplex, surrounded by overgrown trees and bushes and lots of cats too.
But, yes, there is a point to this story. I don’t know what happened before we arrived but my interaction with him was nothing but nice. He turned out to be a very nice man. Plus, he had all kinds of fruits growing: coconuts, oranges, limes, bananas, which sometimes fell across the fence into our house, and became finders keepers. He passed away about 2-3 years ago.
The reason I am sharing this story is because, my poem for today’s writer’s quote/poem Wednesday, reminded me of it. It reminded me that some people are actually really nice once you get to know them. And neighbourhood’s unanimous declaration is not always the truth. The Poem is titled Mrs Caldera’s House of things, and I hope you have a blast in Mrs Calderas kitchen.
Mrs. Caldera’s House of Things BY GREGORY DJANIKIAN
You are sitting in Mrs. Caldera’s kitchen,
you are sipping a glass of lemonade
and trying not to be too curious about
the box of plastic hummingbirds behind you,
the tray of tineless forks at your elbow.
You have heard about the backroom
where no one else has ever gone
and whatever enters, remains,
refrigerator doors, fused coils,
mower blades, milk bottles, pistons, gears.
“You never know,” she says, rummaging
through a cedar chest of recipes,
“when something will come of use.”
There is a vase of pencil tips on the table,
a bowl full of miniature wheels and axles.
Upstairs, where her children slept,
the doors will not close,
the stacks of magazines are burgeoning,
there are snow shoes and lampshades,
bedsprings and picture tubes,
and boxes and boxes of irreducibles!
You imagine the headline in the Literalist Express:
House Founders Under Weight Of Past.
But Mrs Caldera is baking cookies,
she is humming a song from childhood,
her arms are heavy and strong,
they have held babies, a husband,
tractor parts and gas tanks,
what have they not found a place for?
It is getting dark, you have sat for a long time.
If you move, you feel something will be disturbed,
there is room enough only for your body.
“Stay awhile,” Mrs. Caldera says,
and never have you felt so valuable.
I just have to add this. Ever since I read the poem, that last five lines have stayed with me. So, was there anyone in your neighbourhood who had a mystery surrounding them?