If These Walls Could Speak


Jerry L. Hurley

I didn’t even see the house hidden in the overgrowth

but I smelled her sweet perfume. Confederate Jasmine

in the springtime was her scent. Parting vines I stepped

upon her slanted porch and found a narrow small house,

peeling paint and sagging wood with swaybacked roof.

To steady myself I placed my hand

against a wall beside the gaping front door

and lost myself in time.

The years fell away and I was on a sturdy porch

facing a yard swept clean and picked over by the chickens

pecking in the dirt.

A young man of color comes up the walk

with a lovely young girl holding his arm.

He sweeps her up and into his arms as they cross the threshold.

First love, first home, a bright future awaits.

The light fades and dims and comes bright again

with children playing and laughing with joy

running about pulling the tail of a complacent dog.

I sense that life is good here on the Hill with work

tonging oysters and shucking them for treasures

tightly embraced. Dark-skinned children in school

learning of a world away from Apalach.

Family sitting together in church on Sunday worshipping God

and imagining chicken to be fried in the small shotgun kitchen.

The light fades and dims and comes bright again

An elderly lady waiting on the porch in a rocking chair.

Floorboards beginning to sag and paint peeling from the walls

the house still rings with the laughter of her children’s children.

I need to trim back this Jasmine Granny, it’s about to take the porch,”

spoken by a grandson full-grown.

Leave it be and come sit by me and talk. And he did and all was well.

Time faded once again and the rocker sits empty.

The house looks forlorn as the jungle encroaches.

The jasmine riots across the roof and envelops the place.

The small shotgun house has known joy and sadness,

Birth, life and death. Forgotten she fades into the trees.

I pull my hand from the wall.