Domum [domi contineris]

In the round holes woodpeckers drilled

through the wood siding

house sparrow and house wren raise

nestlings to fledglings.

House finch’s haphazard nest sits slung

under eaves, and robin is

a house thrush settled squarely on a beam.

Each spring our house houses others

who build at a speed

born of instinct. A mental patterning

urges them on:  nest house space

though they stay only to rear their young,

in time abandoning the abode

which is, I reckon, a temporary place

even for us, though we

stay as our offspring have gone away.

We don’t abandon the house. It holds us,

holding all we can’t let go.

Weigh what keeps us householders, and it

isn’t the house itself—

a built thing, object occupied or not

taxable by the commonwealth—

inclined to weather or shift and, perhaps, endure.

We are housebound in our way whether

we leave the house or not.

Like house finches whose nests are but stray sticks

and strings as seasons go

we persist, we paint and mow, pull vines,

plug holes, mend cracks:

we tend, not only to what’s young but to what’s old.

Waiting. While the house holds.


Sheltering, and observing how the birds shelter and house themselves. Reflections on what it means to be “house-bound.”

About the Artist

Ann E. Michael,  Lehigh County
Published:  January 28, 2021