by Rigoberto González
I am not your mother, I will not be moved
by the grief or gratitude of men
who weep like orphans at my door.
I am not a church. I do not answer
prayers but I never turn them down.
Come in and kneel or sit or stand,
the burden of your weight won't lessen
no matter the length of your admission.
Tell me anything you want, I have to listen
but don't expect me to respond
when you tell me you have lost your job
or that your wife has found another love
or that your children took their laughter
to another town. You feel alone and empty?
Color me surprised! I didn't notice they were gone.
Despite the row of faces pinned like medals
to my walls, I didn't earn them.
The scratches on the wood are not my scars.
If there's a smell of spices in the air
blame the trickery of kitchens
or your sad addiction to the yesterdays
that never keep no matter how much you believe
they will. I am not a time capsule.
I do not value pithy things like locks
of hair and milk teeth and ticket stubs
and promise rings—mere particles
of dust I'd blow out to the street if I could
sneeze. Take your high school jersey
and your woman's wedding dress away
from me. Sentimental hoarding bothers me.
So off with you, old couch that cries
in coins as it gets dragged out to the porch.
Farewell, cold bed that breaks its bones
in protest to eviction or foreclosure or
whatever launched this grim parade
of exits. I am not a pet. I do not feel
abandonment. Sometimes I don't even see you
come or go or stay behind. My windows
are your eyes not mine. If you should die
inside me I'll leave it up to you to tell
the neighbors. Shut the heaters off
I do not fear the cold. I'm not the one
who shrinks into the corner of the floor
because whatever made you think
this was a home with warmth isn't here
to sweet-talk anymore. Don't look at me
that way, I'm not to blame. I granted
nothing to the immigrant or exile
that I didn't give a bordercrosser or a native
born. I am not a prize or a wish come true.
I am not a fairytale castle. Though I
used to be, in some distant land inhabited
by dreamers now extinct. Who knows
what happened there? In any case, good
riddance, grotesque fantasy and mirth.
So long, wall-to-wall disguise in vulgar
suede and chintz. Take care, you fool,
and don't forget that I am just a house,
a structure without soul for those whose
patron saints are longing and despair.
“Casa" by Rigoberto González. Copyright © 2013 from UNPEOPLED EDEN by Rigoberto González. Used by permission of Four Way Books.