THAT WHITE WATCHUNG HOME, a poem … and your Wednesday writing prompt

img_1167I wonder if that old Watchung home still stands
or has it been demolished by developers building
rows on rows of barracks-like housing where
big maples used to rise to line the roadway
·
Driving up to that sprawling place, soundly built
and well-loved, a kaleidoscope of colors greeted us –
The burnished bronze of our uncle’s skin and the
brown-black of his doe eyes and dense curly hair
The azure sky and snowy clouds tumbling down to
top the perfect juicy purple of ripe Italian plums
and the brisk reds of beefsteak and plum tomatoes
The true-green of the too-long grass feathering the
rich chocolaty shades of the well-mulched earth
·
That antique home was pristine white with green trim
and such a busy, welcoming, wrap-around porch,
often with bushels of fruit and vegetables standing
in the company of freshly cut flowers piled and tossed
All waiting . . . for what and for whom?
The airy rooms were waiting too with windows
and doors thrown open to children like me breezing
in from the The City with our pallid skin and eyes
burning to see our uncle and some untouched nature
·
Well-worn carpets, Persian and Arabian, brushed bare feet
as searching room-to-room for hidden treasures and history
I marveled at the accoutrements of other decades –
the water pump, the dumb-waiter, the pull-chain water closet
Each room was a marvel of furnishings, fine wood and hand-turned
Drawers lined with newspapers, yellow and dissolving with age,
advertising corsets, questionable cures, and other ephemera of this
same place in times mostly forgotten except for stale news
telling its stories to the silence in chests mostly empty and untouched
The mammoth tables in the large white high-ceilinged kitchen and
the stately dining room with its chandelier and heavy drapes spoke of
more formal multi-generational dinners before these days of greater
mobility and the tech distractions of i-This and smart-That

The peaceable, sturdy safe-haven of that white Watchung home
matched the steady embrace of its woods and orchards
where a child like me could lie on the hardy ground,
sun blinding bright, browning spindly arms and legs, small body
soaking in rich damp earth, mind yawning, stretching, awakening
Imagination rising in mists of violet-grey shot with silver stories
and flaxen poems finding their way into the pages of a notebook
Such plum-sweet visions set free by that mystical place –
I wonder if it still stands in Watchung, if it remembers me
And how I loved it – I still do

WRITING PROMPT

I think a lot about houses and housing these days. Here in Silicon Valley there’s a critical shortage of housing in general and especially of affordable housing. I know several families who lost their homes when the housing bubble burst in the later part of the last decade. I have a neighbor who ended up on the street for two years . There are too many folks who make their way by couch-surfing or living out of their cars or trucks. We read in the papers about homeless children here and abroad and think and pray and do what we can for all those people sleeping in the rough, escaping violence in their homelands. I’ve always appreciated our homes, never anything fancy but definitely safe, clean and functional, and I remember warmly the homes and hospitality of friends and relatives with whom I stayed at different times when I was a child.

I’m sure you too have memories of the houses or apartments in which you grew-up or stayed when you were young. Maybe those memories are good. Maybe not. Either way, they probably remain vivid in your mind. Perhaps there was one thing – like the tree in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – that had special meaning or gave you hope. Outside the complex where my mother lived there were two berry trees, Mulberry perhaps, that I thought of as guardians of the building.

Write a poem or creative nonfiction piece about the house or apartment that most stands out in your memories of childhood and tell us what it meant to you, what was special or loathsome, what dreams you may have nurtured there, or how it might have fixed your vision of the home you’d have as an adult. Take your time and enjoy the process.

© 2016, words and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “THAT WHITE WATCHUNG HOME, a poem … and your Wednesday writing prompt

Thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s