In each new home, I stood for some time in the basement, tracing
the copper pipes, the old cast iron waste,
the wires electric, even the old ceramic spindles.
I followed each joist to its seat, and sought out the origin of dust, perhaps
from powder post beetles or termites.
I sought out hollow spaces beneath the bluestone flags, hoping
to locate a hidden cistern, or treasure,
Once, the water feeds were so jammed with rust,
I had to hammer them free. I had to
learn humility and
the patience of plumbing.
Sometimes it was simply the light that fell
across a dining room floor, a built-in cupboard
with distorted glass,
or a back and narrow stairs. I love one
house, the antebellum slave quarters,
then filled with mouldering piles of pecans.
The house was a four over four, with uncanny dimensions.
Another was glorious with detritus, its original inhabitant
a famed suffragette, having left her dampened maroon Baedeker’s,
advertisements for the Hamburg-America. Cunard Line,
Lusitania deck-plans barely impeded the path, back
out the kitchen.
It was all, naturally, torn down.