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.
Ann E. Michael