20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


Cleaning House

Lung cancer claimed my father almost four
years back. My husband, brother, sis-is-law
and I then faced the agonizing, raw
job: Empty out the house. This, quite the chore,

as he had seven thousand records, books
too numerous to count, woodcuts and prints
and lithographs that numbered high. What hints
would help us in this cleaning of the nooks

and rooms where all of it was stored? My job?
His study. His large desk stood in the middle,
with all the papers in its drawers a riddle
I’d solve. Then, shelves and shelves, a crowded mob

of books, newspapers, magazines and more.
Upon the windowsill each reference book
stood tall and at the ready for his look.
A cabinet, like mini-Staples store,

held every kind of paper, clip, or glue,
yes, staplers, rulers, paper punch and ink,
in duplicate, so organized I think
that Office Depot could have shopped there too.

His bookcases held all his published works,
set carefully in alphabetic line.
I stood before them, thought of all the time
he spent composing. Literacy lurks.

This was my thought as I sat down. He wrote
for hours here in this very room where now
I sit alone without my teacher. How
will I thank him for his instruction?

to self: Say thank you when you can. You may
not have the opportunity again.
I learned this from my mother way back when,
but needed practice so I could obey.











I could never live,

in a red brick house,

with frilly nets,

that pucker and flounce.


With rooms so square,

shaped like a box;

oh no! not me,

give me stone and rocks.


Victorian aged,

with features so old

flag stone floors,

that strike up the cold.


Stone inglenook fires,

glowing embers and coal,

black basalt hearth,

to bear my soles.


Mullioned windows,

shutters and sash,

transom light, stained,

carved fine mountain ash.


A long sweeping drive,

to a panelled oak door,

proud portico porch,

chequerboard floor.


Orchard and lawns,

domed topiary box,

walled kitchen garden,

growing herbs, veg, and stocks.


That’s my dream house,

from my sepia past,

how I long to be there,

and remain everlast.


© Hazelhurst 04.12.2012

By Alexandra Carr-Malcolm


Counting Days

Crescendos toward December sound, like wind
a-whooshing through the fall toward winter’s blast.
All elm tree foliage has come unpinned
and ground is covered in those crisps that last

until the earth’s adorned in gowns of white.
We march to our Thanksgiving, make big plans,
then Christmas shows its colors day and night.
We gather families and our friends, our clans

to celebrate. But what of days between?
What ordinary Tuesday strikes a chord
of music, makes us polish to a sheen
our house? We are the lady and the lord

of this, our manor, and we do not wait
for special times. Each one is special, yes,
and so we dust it off and note the date.
A tree, lake, note, a word means more, not less

as time plods on. Or does time race? I hold
the precious close without apology,
for I can feel it. I am getting old.
Please keep the lights bright on my life’s marquee.


The House (Weekend Challenge)

There are three days each week
at week’s end, that I am running my hands
over the still surface of a wall
or a rippling bed sheet,
standing knee deep in puddles of cotton
or holding paint chips like playing cards.
Music, my companion in the empty house,
laughs along with me, asking
ain’t that a kick in the head
while I wipe up the drops of jupiter
and find new perspective.
The walls sing the echoes
of an inside summertime campout,
storms past now and leaves in the trees
tremble, and sigh, wait for their return,
the house waiting, waiting,
becoming a home again,
vessel for our voices,
lives, happiness
to fill to overspilling.


Moving On

Sorting, trashing, packing, and endless weeding.  After ten years in this place we are moving on: if the place sells.  I am sorting assorted drawers that have been a convenient dumping ground for who knows what or why.  Closets and cupboards are stuffed.  Bookcases are triple stacked.  Will this sorting, trashing, and packing ever be done?  So far, I have packed 26 boxes of stuff to keep, but will not be needed till after we actually move.  God only knows how many more boxes to do at present.  A final packing, at moving time, will be an absolute nightmare.  Maybe we’ll win the lottery or Publisher’s Clearing House and can have someone else to that packing.

And lest we forget the outdoors.  There are 13 flower beds to be weeded and barked.  Plus a stone and brick walkway that has weeds growing between the stones.  I got that done today … now I just need to pour vinegar between all those cracks.  Brother Bill solved the problem of two of the flower beds by ripping them out and planting grass.  He did the same with one of the raised vegetable beds; but turned around to re-creat another veggie bed that he had originally ripped out last year.  Where else could he dump all that dirt?  He loves me, I’m sure, but like is another matter when it comes to my landscaping habits.

Meanwhile he is putting books on Alibris as fast as possible.  So far he has described, inventoried, and packed about 20 boxes of books.  We sure hope some of them sell! They will be the last things we put in the storage locker we rented last week.  And let us not  forget, we need to finish packing away non-essentials by the end of this month when our sister, her hubbie, and two of their male grandchildren will be here to help store stuff, make trips to the dump, and clear as much furniture as possible from the living room for a grand carpeting event.  And we have the painter coming in June to repair and paint the house exterior.  Repairs are partly due to a woodpecker (a flicker) who is having a love affair with the siding surrounding our chimney: there are now five holes in it.  Just possibly, if we work ourselves to death, we’ll put the house on the market by the first of July, before school starts, and this can be the next owner’s summer vacation.

The realtor to be can tell lookers the house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, huge family room wired for booming sound, new carpeting in living room and on stairway to master bedroom, 2 year old roof, newly painted exterior, three year old hot water heater, gas furnace and appliances, updated kitchen, 2 covered porches, hot tub, greenhouse, extensive deck of that stuff that lasts forever, raised beds, fruit trees, and gorgeously landscaped.  Is anyone out there interested?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,787 other followers

%d bloggers like this: