Breaking Up The House

Every time I go back home, my mother
tells me I should begin to think now about what I will and will not want - before something happens and I have to. Each time

I refuse, as though somehow this is an argument we're having. After all, she and my father are still keeping the house they've kept for half a century.
But I do know why she insists. She has

already done a harder thing than I will
have to do. She was only eighteen -
her mother and father both dead - when it fell to her to break up the house, reduce

familiar rooms to a last order, a world
boxed and sealed. And while I know she would, she cannot keep me from the house emptied but for the pale ovals and rectangles

still nailed fast - cleaved to the walls where mirrors, portraits had hung - persistent, sourceless shadows.

by Claudia Emerson

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