The house you build, the house we’ve been fortunate to buy and to have,
is always moving. always a work.
that is, there is so much movement
to accommodate its heart, that is people,
& those houseguests.
Our house is not beautiful, beautiful like magazines
spread open to every drawer, or even room being in order,
being ready and free and established with order.
There is movement and I am at its center,
the creative queen bee who needs a five foot rumba always following after me,
with folding, cleaning, and cooking capabilities.
(A Japanese house is kinda different than what many friends back home may have, in terms of space, storage, and rooms).
You get creative. You compromise and give away whatever you discover is waste. You make kids bunk-up;
sleepovers and rearranging to make room for one more, or four or two).
Our house is not always, ever all-right,
in the looking through an Instagramic, Apartment Therapy,
kitchen screaming Moosewood or uptown chic or House Beautiful lens.
If we waited or cried forever for that perfect moment
to say yes to a guest
in need of a room, or a couch, or a landing pad,
if we waited til some perfect,
they wouldn’t still be at the curb,
but o–the richness, the lottery-won visits
It has been astounding, wonderful, crazy.
I shoulda made a guestbook six years ago,
when dear ones started touching base and talking dates.
Cousins of the best tree-house, old neighborhood buds,
new wives, beaus, pregnant on arrival announcements,
prayers and naming our son, Jude,
All the gifts, the hugs,
the new uncles the kids never had until
we said yes and put fresh sheets on the beds,
keys on spare or homemade, ridiculous rings.
We only say yes and the most wonderful guests come!
And then for our kids?
It is like living at the foot of a mountain,
only the rugged, the plenty in spirit
come and with them,
the arch-your-ear stories.
The bundles of chocolate bars and coffee beans,
the hugfulls of wisedom and heartfuls of prayers
specifically, as if that old addage, making way for angels
dressed as strangers were true,
the great uncles you honestly didn’t know you had until you taught them
how to order ramen and then you all dove into bowls of ice cream.
The talks about nuclear fission, by a lead-engineer
at my dining room table, the one with the scratches and second-hand crayon,
just after the big meltdown of unit four.
Guests come and you are the one who gets to serve them,
but hunger is hunger is love
and you all share some happy tears and
seemingly-tall tales told as if round the fire,
to our kids.
This is a hotel for the courageous,
the weary, the lovers of G-d, and family.
This is a wheel on the road to the sparks that fly with
“Y E S”.
And you know what else?
Imagine if we’d waited on kids until the perfect,
until the “reeeeeeallllly settled”, the better clothes, figure,
dining table, sleek chairs, or some wide yard.
So you hold hands, say “maybe”, or “okay and yes”
hold hands, and they just come,
all the giggles, all the infinitesimal wiggles out of a fearful, dissatisfied
all you’ve really done is nail a coat hook,
make that extra key, and open-up
to the most gracious, the most divine,
the ones with stories, quirks, tattoos, paintings,
piercings, mugs of steaming, streaming tea,
lavendar quartz from Kashmir, doctors working without borders,
young men on a mission of climbing every foothold, to the utmost rooftop guests.
The couple who knitted our baby’s booties while on assignment in Kazakstan,
the ones learning new languages, with new words of explosive love
on their tongues.
The aunt who chose to live
here to keep getting strong.
And of course, Mom, who boards and helps like there is no problem
love and some wit and wisdom won’t budge.
Our house is not some outpost of perfection,
but for some reason, it’s all working
to refresh and continue
tracks and mountain treks for those we want to keep knowing
an eternity-long and forever, their names buzzing around our children
for months and years later.
You don’t forget the one who took your room,
but sat with you to weave.