While the girls and I were taking down screens and putting up storms today, I noticed a pane of glass had fallen from one of the windows. I was alone on the that side of the house and the window is slightly above my head, in an odd place above a bed of chives. This old window had fallen into such disrepair, its glazing entirely decrepit, that the pane had merely slipped down the house. I lifted the glass, about sixteen square inches, between my hands. That window with its peeling teal paint I had intended to scrape and paint this fall, but I had found neither time nor inclination for any of the windows. I held the pane up to the sunlight as if it were a smudged tear from the house, then set it carefully behind the chives where it wouldn’t be broken. I imagined the house shedding that tear of glass in the night.
My house seems more alive to me than it ever has before, with its rooms of children’s artwork, yarn, books, cobwebs and mud crumbles and the crates of garden onions I’ve yet to carry to the basement. Our house sings with light and joy and color in places; other corners need care and paint and trim. Like everything else in our lives, this house has a story, too, one that began before we arrived with the sprawling clutter of our lives, and one that will continue when we are gone, too.
This afternoon, we attended a memorial service for a neighbor, this woman who had helped build so many houses for family and friends. What a good thing, I thought. What a gift that will last.
People are putting up storm windows now,
Or were, this morning, until the heavy rain
Drove them indoors. So, coming home at noon,
I saw storm windows lying on the ground,
Frame-full of rain; through the water and glass
I saw the crushed grass, how it seemed to stream
Away in lines like seaweed on the tide
Or blades of wheat leaning under the wind.
The ripple and splash of rain on the blurred glass
Seemed that it briefly said, as I walked by,
Something that I should have liked to say to you,
Something . . .the dry grass bent under the pane
Brimful of bouncing water . . . something of
A swaying clarity which blindly echoes
This lonely afternoon of memories
And missed desires, while the wintry rain
Unspeakable the distance in the mind!)
Runs on the standing windows and away.