House Key

Putting a house key under a door mat is no
big deal.
Home owners have been doing it ever since there’s
been locks on doors,
leaving keys for others, out of plain sight,
under the mat.
This time, though, the simple act of hiding a key
was a final act,
and thus dramatically underplayed.
for, after thirty years, he was turning over his house
to new owners.
Thirty years!
He’d never lived thirty years in one place.
And now he was downsizing,
selling his furniture but keeping his memories,
every empty room telling a story.

In gratitude he walked one last time into each
vacant space, listening:
The study upstairs, recently his friend’s studio,
was where they both did a lot of writing,
the energy from the creative output
still there, ringing in his ears,
a gift bringing many moments of deep joy
and inspiring him now
as he moves to the front bedroom, listening,
and hearing the pillow talk from his wife’s
antique bed,
so much love and passion there to share
in their very own night ship, two WW II veterans,
Navy and Coast Guard,
floating in a sea of dreams and hope
for a better world.
Still listening, his eyes blurred with tears,
he carefully makes his way downstairs,
hanging on to the handrail,
the kitchen beckoning him one more time.
Here he hears the sounds of friends and family

gathered around the tiled counter,
laughter and the clinking of glasses.
At other times, in the quiet of the early morning,
Baker’s Hours,
the sound of soft jazz from the radio,
Ella Fitzgerald or Nat King Cole seeping through
the clatter of the muffin tins and the beat
of the mixing spoon
against the metal mixing bowl,
All of them sacred sounds somehow,
bells tolling him to a celebration of himself
with his fellow creatures,
of the joy to be found in humanity’s
common ways.
(In terms of where he is now, he wants to add
the phrase “God meeting God in the everyday”).

At last, all the rooms visited and listened to, in turn,
He checks the thermostat, turns off the lights,
and locks the door, putting the key under the mat
as instructed,
and walks down the front steps in the dark
to his waiting truck.
At the bottom of the steps, he turns, one last time,
to look at his house.
Bathed in the ambience of the streetlight,
the house, going on 140 years,
has retained its dignity,
standing straight and strong.
He can’t help but remove his baseball cap
and place it over his heart,
bowing slightly.
Much to his surprise, the house responds,
the vertical lines of the front porch
curling into a smile.
Not only that but he thought he saw
one of the two second story windows wink
as well.


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