December 3, 1986
I dreamed they tore my old house down
That constantly changing thing on the hill
Where I grew up, then again, just about,
But there is an empty lot of landfill
Covered with the dark, black of asphalt,
I was in tears even though I hated that place
Sitting on the corner to figure out whose fault
It was that caused me to want to erase
That bit of history contained in that old site
The house that sat there, so loud at times
Yet at other times so quiet and still despite
The rumbling of traffic rising with sunshine
To die later with the pink glow and rising dark
Maybe they just a space for those trucks to park
I always come back here to look at the old house on the hill because part of me still haunts it. Some places just don’t leave you even when you leave it, and this is one of them for me – as I’m sure the cold water flat I live in now will strike me the same way later.
Too many things happened here – the way huge historic events somehow stain the ground where they took place so that one cannot exist without the other in people’s minds.
I had a hard time here, moving in and out of this place as my mother’s mad fits dictated, sometimes returning here after terrible times elsewhere deeper in the ghetto.
I come back here because it is a lasting icon in my life that has yet to be bulldozed out of existence, even when nearly everything else has been.
The day I come back and find it gone, I’ll have lost part of myself.
I come back here when I feel lost and need to find my roots again, this generally after some bad bit of misfortune, a failed love or some other unnatural disaster I have brought down on myself.
Seeing it brings me home, even if strangers happen to be living in it now.
I remember when my uncle finally decided to sell the place and move to Toms River, and how lost I felt, not being able to return for visits, knowing that this place the family moved into after the great war would no longer get cared for by hands of the same blood line. Chuck, the guy who owns the gas station bought it and the boat store, and changed both while at the same time, kept up their surface appearance so that from the outside, I still get the same sense of foundation.
This time of year is even more important, because with the exception of the Christmas I spent in the projects in
Paterson and the two I spent on the run from
the police – most of my holidays were spent here.
All of these things are true this year, and I suppose the dream I had about its vanishing scared me so much I would have come here faster just to make sure it was only a dream.
Having seen it, I go on my way again, if not healed, then at least less wounded.