uninhabitable :: sierra demulder
My father still lives in the house he built
for my mother. He calls himself a bachelor,
not a hoarder, but you can measure how long
she’s been gone by the piles of expired
mail, the dishes, the sun-stained photos
framed in dust—tree rings of his solitude.
When he speaks of his recovery, he lowers
his voice, even though we are on the phone.
He tells me he isn’t ashamed of what he did
or where he has been or what he put my mother
through, but I think he means that he does
not allow himself the luxury of forgetting.
I am writing about you again today and
I wonder, why dig up our sad corpse?
Why put the spleen back, a spoiled balloon,
already burst, but here I am huffing life back
into it. Nursing our fruitless love. Sometimes,
I still can’t believe it. That you happened
and I happened and this was the best we could
do. Our nest of rubbish, our flowerless
garden—we slept here. Made love among
the bottle caps and ants and mold.
My father told me he still imagines
getting back together with my mother,
maybe someday, after her new husband dies.
I think he means he started to build a house
and left it unfinished. What is it about
this family that draws us back to
the uninhabitable? That compels us
to make a bed where there isn’t one?
We Slept Here (2015)