Still it’s hard to say good-bye

I know that it’s just a building, and that Hugo House lives on—thriving—and will return in a new building. But my history with the house goes back to when it was New City Theater, and I was trying to be a modern dance choreographer, and then the years of taking classes, teaching a few, readings and readings and readings—plus finding a publisher at an event called Finding Your Publisher. Last week when my daughter sent me a photo of the demolition, that part of the transition hit me in the gut.

Audience of Ghosts

When the house comes down,
the rooms of my body hurt—
empty air, all my years
in the second story now a legend
with no map, histories nesting
in my body like timbers splintered.

Shoulder to stranger we wrote
on the plaster, pen after pen
one kind of good-bye. There
is the hand I forgot to pack,
the words I forgot to look up,
buried the heart’s four classrooms,

steaming between my ribs the kitchen
when it was a dressing room,
the theater where I danced,
the cabaret table where I listened,
with red wine, the stage
where the sign said eat the mike.

When the house comes down,
only the shadows of rooms—
and our writing on the walls,
words into dust, debris
of the house come down
in the push and shovel, bucketful,

bucketful. Later, you send me a photo,
remains behind a cyclone fence.
I think of the house as a funeral
parlor, its older incarnation.
You tell me it was beautiful
seeing all our words tumbling.

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