Postscript House


Chase Twichell

It’s where we’ll write the last few pages of our lives.
Jeanne will be there, Catherine, Eliza, and the two Janes,
Sharon and Cary, Joyce and Elaine.
The only criterion for admission will be
that prospective residents must demonstrate
that they’ve had a great deal of experience with men
and still think they’re funny.
If someone wants to live like a zen monk
in three spare rooms haunted by skylights, she can.
If Jeanne wants to remodel every eighteen months
she can; no one will mind the sawdust and hammering
because it will remind us of the hammering and sawdust
of the past, long since swept away.
Postscript House will grow like a honeycomb,
a coral reef of alcoves, towers, and stairs.
All our collective bitterness will be pulverized
and used to pave the circular drive,
where it will glitter weakly under the tires of our cars
as we come and go. All of grief’s remnants
will slowly bleach to the colors of good carpets
neutralized by sun, or be framed as icons
of the life before, each one taken down or lost
or given away without thinking to the yard girl
one afternoon when she notices and admires it.

We’ll share a cook and a masseuse, a doctor,
and someone to push the wheelchairs around.
All the public spaces will be bright with the flowers
of irony, of which there will be an endless supply
grown year round in the spacious greenhouse,
and in the evenings hindsight will fall
like a comfortable twilight into rooms
painted lavender, linen, and pale rose.
If there are any old husbands still lying around
they can be there, and so can boyfriends,
but they have to be out of the house
Monday through Friday between eight and six.
If there are enough of them, they can form a club
and have a clubhouse at the back of the yard
with their motto carved over the door in Latin:
Defendere et Negare, which roughly translates
“I didn’t do it. Do what?”
They can stay out there all day near the pet cemetery,
which is where they’ll go when they go,
and which will be nicely maintained and decorated
with teak benches for meditation, tennis balls,
squeaky toys, and the license plates of beloved cars.
Few things will be banned outright on the premises,
but there will be no weapons or sports scores,
or state-of-the-art corkscrews with forty moving parts,
or excessive washing and waxing of cars.
Postscript House will never be empty,
never be cold. It will ride like a cruise ship
on the vast gray sea, its staterooms in the dusk
lit by the fires of those working late
or quietly talking in clusters of three or four
at the bedside of someone sick.
No one will have to live without tenderness
or good jokes, or spend her final days wandering
through the museum of the past.
Every grief that resurrects itself will be analyzed
by a team of experts and either set free to live as a bird
in the flowering gardens or else put back to sleep
until it is outlived. In summer, slow fans will stir
the scented air, and in winter on stormy nights
a man will come with a snow blower while it’s still dark
and be gone by the time we wake up.