Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The House That Forgot Us by Frances E. FitzGerald

The house we moved out
of in 1964
doesn’t remember
us. It doesn’t remember the wallpaper in the dining
room, the stove sitting where the fridge
used to be, the downstairs bathroom
tub where Aunt Betty dunked me
after I screamed my
defiance at getting the
shampoo rinsed out of
my hair.

The pantry doesn’t remember when
I cornered Mom one
December, demanding, Is there a
Santa Claus? and not hearing
what I wanted
to hear: Of
course there’s a Santa
Claus, no matter
what your sisters
tell you.

The house doesn’t
remember the ratty
beige carpet downstairs
where we built our
doll town, or the trays
and chemicals Dad used as he
developed his photos in the downstairs
bedroom. It doesn’t
remember the overstuffed
chair (on the front-porch side of the
living room) that
Teresa and I squeezed in

The upstairs hallway doesn’t
remember Mom and Bill and I pulling
nails out of the carpet in
November of 1963, then hearing on
the radio that John F.
Kennedy was shot. Mom
 made us say Hail Marys. The
house doesn’t
remember our Hail Marys.

We remember
the house in our every pore. But
 now its green siding is
off, and gleaming, naked wood
floors breathe freely again, and
walls are vibrant blues and
pale yellows. It is as though
we never lived
there, even though our
old house has never
moved out of us.


  1. Frances,

    I love this poem, and the accompanying photo. I could be in that photo. In fact, I think I see myself! Your poem makes me want to visit my old family homestead in Dearborn.


  2. We had carpet installed on the day Kennedy was shot also. That is something you never forget.

  3. Takes me back to the house I grew up in. It's a nice thought to consider going there any time I want in my mind and feel those memories. Thanks!