100 Summers Ago

Mark Millicent

New houses, cold and stark.
I like old wood scratches, gouges and marks
Leaded windows draughty damp and dark
Signs of having been lived in - signs of previous lives
Signs of a building's past, but still living.
Old scratched graffiti: Arthur loves Elizabeth 1917.
Where are Arthur's bones now, where does he rest,
Where is Elizabeth?
Does she lie with Arthur? Or was it just a summer romance?
Fleeting, over 100 summers ago?
Uneven plaster - wattle and daub, stave and lath
Not chrome and steel - marble and tile
Plastic Ikea prefabricated kitchens; no.

I like wood, hand turned, cast glass
Character wear-worn finish.
A patina of years, old copper, lead and zinc
A butchers sink, exposed brick not white perfect walls
Huge Oak beams reclaimed from a ship
The support over the mantle how many generations
warmed themselves around the chipped slate hearth.
Beryl and Thomas did they sit here talking
about plans when he returned from the war - did he return?
Did they set up the business and
prosper to make this house a happy pretty home?
And raise a family, what of their children?

H.G. Wells time machine; take me back to the day
When the first key turned in this front door
When someone trod the threshold as a new owner for the first time.
What summer was that? The house was clean and new
The garden, not yet grown. Was it sunny?
The walls breathed without a wheeze, she was young, fresh, green.
In an old house, these times are still here, in its history
In the wall, in the air, in every breath it lives and breathes.

Mark Millicent

Mark Millicent is a UK writer and illustrator based in the USA. He works in the advertising and film world of Los Angeles living in the Santa Monica Mountains.

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