Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Thirty-third Contest :: Honorable Mention


The Attic

by Esther Hung
The creak of the attic echoes
Like footfalls in my bones
And I know we've always complained about
The broken stairs in our home
But maybe it's because we're leaving
We're breaking away, dispersing, scattering
Like autumn leaves being blown by the wind
We didn't realize the treasures beneath the leaves
Until the wind takes it
Takes it all away

Until there's nothing left, just barren ground
Trodden by uncaring boots
By people who see just another house, another property, another thing to be owned
Unknowing of how much it meant to us

Like that big oak in the front yard, the one we always pretended was a pine
Because other people had Christmas trees
And we wanted one too
I hear they're cutting it down to put something new
Something eye-catching, something better
Whatever they place, it might catch the eye
But I'm not sure it'll catch my heart
The same way our Christmas tree did

And the bird feeder on the front porch
We'll never know why the hummingbirds hated it
But I remember the way we laughed when that squirrel
Tried to use it
We threw the bird feeder out when we were cleaning the house
Preparing for the next lucky ones
Even if it went in the garbage can, we handled it like crystal
Wrapped in brown paper to make sure it didn't shatter

Before it was buried beneath the old blanket we couldn't let go, but couldn't keep
And the pots and pans, charred and dented, but we kept using them anyway
Because some things only needed to be useful, not new, not name-brand
Like the ancient lawn mower that wheezes like a dying turtle
We couldn't even sell it during the garage sale
But that was okay, because we didn't have to see it taken
Like the china plates, the ones used for family meals when we could get together
Or the battered paperbacks, so lovingly read
Or the lamps, the couches, the rugs, the blankets, the pillows, the drawers
Everything we sold, every time we sold one
It was like losing a piece of home

But I know we all kept something
A chip of wood from the time we played with an axe, and it went into our grandfather's tool rack
That acrylic painting our aunt drew in sharp strokes of paint, because she was a frustrated artist and it seemed like nobody cared for art
That glass bottle from the time we saved enough to play in a glass factory, and almost burned it down playing with fire
In my own pocket, tucked into a handkerchief, the metal ornament we hung on our Christmas oak
A silly thing to take, but it wouldn't mean anything to anyone else
Not unless they'd been there every Christmas to see us hang it together

But everything else is gone, from the living room, the kitchen, the two small bedrooms
And the attic, too, even though we could never keep it empty
Now it's hollow, like a jack-o-lantern long after Halloween has passed
And you can hear the wind whistling, calling for winter
But that's fine, because it never used to be silent anyway
Not since the first day we were lucky enough to enter it
The windows rattle if you walk too heavily
Like people, it sways in face of the wind
And groans when there's too much to bear
And sometimes I think it weeps, when it's raining, the thudding raindrops a lullaby
Somehow sad, but soothing

Maybe one day, we'll come back here
Whether by chance or choice, with all the bits and bobbles we took
And piece back together our home
As the attic echoes, and trembles, and sings

Third Place WinnerNext Honorable Mention
Blue Mountain Arts