In The Basement

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

True Story, for most of my stories and poems are non-fiction.

Submitted: May 24, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 24, 2018



In The Basement

By A. Guinevere Kern

Copyright - December 30th, 2002


A martial Marital spat and a debasement,

Led to my habitation of this 1920s house, 

Made of concrete, plaster and hard wood,

Corpse-blue painted exterior, white trim.

I took half his home, packing day on day,

While he entertained his Ruski Slut in Southern France.

By my fury and the weight of pain,

I carried every box and bag upon my back.

Hard labor, freeing myself from his rule.

Weeks of undoing and redoing ego, lifting

Placing, shifting, moving. I felt my soul

Grind out of stasis, heard liberty a-ticking.

For weeks after I took possession, I felt lost.

These rooms were not my so familiar rooms.

This revamped kitchen not my cherished kitchen.

This new bed certainly not our double bed,

In which we had slept on our own sides,

Never hugging over the centerline.

And it was always HIS house, anyway.

That dwelling was never mine to love.

While he worked at molesting molecules,

Seeking drugs to cure the curse of cancer,

The house was silent, but for my breath.

I feared his footfall on the front hall after five.

I rarely even played music. I was afraid

I'd weep at joyous notes, that I might realize

My heart was all squeezed out of love.

I painted and wrote in the still morning.

My new home shares a party wall, 

With a mysterious neighbor never home.

Her dog howls with every Firehouse alarm,

And her white cat snores on my porch.

Across the street the B&O clacks the tracks

And rattle-squalls, and shrieks and wails,

Like the sheer cacophony of our former fights.

But with greater regularity and less fear.

Slowly I have hammered nails, which bent

On concrete contact. So drill I did, 

'Til each white plaster wall upheld my oils.

The halls whispered with my insomniac tread.

Bookshelves, desks, table and chairs,

Assembled for the first time on my own.

The wooden window frames are long and old,

Scaling a wall ten feet up to the ceiling.

I left the curtains off, preferring smudged glass,

The sonorous vibrations of the night train,

The quick chitter of squirrels on my tin roof,

And bird twitter, and the hot cat fights.

Still I could not sleep amongst the bald new

And the antique rooms. I marked my path from bedroom

To the bath, to the living room, the den. 

After midnight I slippered into the basement,

Where all my moving boxes stand piled against 

The concrete walls, which ooze wet trails down to the 

Floor. Spiders crochet grimy webs on iron beams,

Silverfish ballet between the bags of goods.

It smelled of dust, and damp, the cold, tart

Reek of underearth. The stone floor so chill

I thought to race upstairs again, but yet, 

A premonition held my flight. Who might

Have lived here once, and under what conditions?

Did they have a maid, a laundress? Was it a Couple

With babies, an old woman alone with many griefs?

I knew every cubit and closet in this home,

And all of it my own. Nothing special or secret

Stood to be revealed. But I needed treasure.

I needed a sign from History, an unexpected

Find, to shake me from the noise of my own sorrow.

I finally noticed the built-in shelves,

Which ran the length of the basement steps,

Where once I had found the china Nativity

And returned it to the former owner.

We know his history: A decadent Church deacon

Who praised the Lord with Whores,

When he wasn't coaxing the choir

To new heights of Holy Sounds.

I popped the crawl-spaced wooden door,

And heard the sharp creak of metal hinges

Mindful of arachnids, insects and mice,

I entered bent over and slowly looked around.

I couldn't imagine the concupiscent Deacon

Had forgotten anything. But back against

The far wall, I glimpsed dark objects,

An alligator suitcase, a rubber-tipped wooden cane.

I drew them forth. The suitcase heavy, the cane

Light -- no longer bearing the weight of its dead owner.

I tugged the box toward me and undid the locks

Which were not locked, and then lifted the lid.

Inside on a lining of faded, crushed blue velvet

A glittering, pearlized, ivory-keyed accordion,

Sat like a treasured jeweled box, waiting

For the music. For Mystery. For a touch gone cold.

It waited. For one long deprived of loving touch

To hoist its sounds across a knee and make a song.

Its pleats wheezed dust and air and whined out of tune.

The keys click-clacked like the train. 

A large M was carved in ivory across the top.

Rhinestones starred on every inch of pearly case,

Faded initials on a metal tag -- R. M. S.

The leather strap thick and stiff with time.

I think an old man once lived here in my home.

And that he was gray and heavy, limping with his age.

But time to time, 'til all his seasons died, 

He set aside his cane and set free the lively notes! 

So though she groaned with every earnest squeeze

Against her clicking keys, and puffy dust accompanied,

Her each and every breath, she somehow remembered

Loving songs of Life, and we rocked with jazzy sounds.

Arachids, aphids, grasshopper neophytes, old 

Dead boxes of memories served as witness.

Note by note, my creaky voice shook free

The hands on my throat which had silenced me too long.

And I felt joy, joy, joy awakening the Soul

Who'd long before been buried in his shiny grinding

I forget about the marriage made of Habit

I freed my heart to the Spirit of Reviving.

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