Hannah GroveMarch 21, 2018

He arrived uninvited,

Expected, but unwelcome.

Every time before when he said he would visit,

He would sit thirsting on our door step,

Lapping at the front stoop, unsure if he should knock.

He never did.

All that courage to visit us, but he never did.


Thick cotton days and honeysuckle nights lulled us into the false security of late summer,

We laughed through dizzying heat waves,

Thinking his plodding gate wouldn’t march up our street

And whisk open the saffron door that Mama loved so much,

Kiss the legs of the table Daddy cut from the big spruce,

Or sink his teeth into the wainscoting that I helped paint.

I think we wanted that Texas flag to flap a little ardor into our lives,

To brighten the horizon of monochromatic office buildings and miles and miles of pavement.

The screens ran ruddy with storm warnings,

Our lives and hearts beating faster than before.

He never knocked before, we said . . .

He didn’t have it in him, we thought . . .

Until we saw Daddy sleeping in his favorite leather chair that he tried to save,

placed on the stained coffee table that just kept sinking.

He liked the chair better than the table, he said.

With our door wide open, our unwelcome guest lamented about how abhorrent our home was.

Munched at the walls,

Booted at the sink.

Until he decided that pulling a three-foot swell was enough,

And that he had bigger projects to work on.

But what about us?

We waited for the camera flash to leave our eyes,

Before we finally got to see what our uninvited visitor did.

He’s long gone now, gone with pensive bluebells and quivering leaves,

But he stamped the letter before he sent it.

And now there’s a big brown scar across the front yard

From where he sat, with the keenness of an alley cat, waiting;

Waiting to come and leave our little home a shell of what it was,

Waterlines three feet high.

Scars within us three feet deep.

Mama cried when she saw what our old friend did.

He didn’t take anything, just rearranged,

But our friend didn’t realize that he took from us what contractors can’t repair.

We put our life into a box:

Photos of Erin at daycare,

Alex’s first Christmas,

Crude pine cone turkeys and bunny napkin holders,

How the fish made it, no one knows.

But we stuff table linens in silence, mourning the Christmas’s past,

And how the charred corner on the holiday cloth

came from Daddy when he laughed so hard the candle tipped over.

And we watch as Mama puts a dulling shard of crystal beside it,

The only thing she has left of her engagement present.

Mama didn’t ask for the remodel.

She never wanted to put our lives away.

But now she does, diligently and with poise,

Because she knows that others lost more than just their homes.

And we must say thanks,

That our lives are put in boxes and not boxed away.

Through furrowed brows and trembling hands,

We laugh a little.

He never knocked before, we said,

But maybe this time we could have opened the door for him,

Been cordial as we said, step right in,

Be sure to soil that rug, Erin never liked it anyway.

And as I help Mama into the moving van,

I think of all the courage it took for him to visit,

And all the courage it’s taking for us to forgive.

Hannah Grove is currently a freshman in highschool in Colorado, and has been raised outdoors. She loves to swim, kayak, hike, and especially spend time with her friends. At school, she is an Ambassador, which means that she works with families wanting to apply to the school.