Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mending Gutters


With apologies to Mr. Frost and a nod to Faith in Community, where the discussion of Mending Wall gave me the idea after the departure of the gutter guy this morning. The contract says, ominously, "Total: Unknown."


Something there is that doesn't love a gutter,
That sends the backed-up ice behind it
And splits the aluminum in the rain
And makes gaps in the fascia for the squirrels.
The work of racoons is another thing:
We look after them and sigh over damage
Where they have climbed the ivy,
And moved into the attic,
Living like the bandits they appear to be.
The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
My neighbor laughs;
And says, "I saw
the squirrels move from my crawl space to yours."
We groan over the cost of this-old-house-maintenance.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are minor irritations and some not so.
We have to use a spell to live here:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We empty our bank accounts.
Oh, just another contribution to the economy,
Contractor and homeowner.
It comes to less than one hopes and more than the other.
He says, "We do houses other guys won't touch."
So said the heating guy.
And the plumber, I tell him.
He only says, "Old houses make good work."
Summer puts the mischief in me, and
I wonder if I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good work? Isn't it
Where there are hurricanes?" But here there are no hurricanes.
Before I replaced a gutter
I'd ask to know
Whether the globe will warm or freeze,
And whether a move south might be in order.
Something there is that doesn't love a gutter,
That wants it down.
I could say "Gremlins" to him,
And gremlins it is. They visit in the night
draining water along bricks,
crumbling plaster and soaking two-by-twelves.
I know men whose passion is concrete,
Who love the feel of a shingle,
The soddering of a pipe,
And now one whose romance is with wood.
He says it again, "Old houses make good work."

6 comments:

Diane said...

This is great! Funny...I think Robert Frost would have loved it.

mompriest said...

Oh good job, good humor, and nice addition to our conversation! In my house, a rectory, I'd need to write a poem about carpenter ants and railroad ties making good neighbors, but not so much with humans...(yes, we have lots of railroad ties used in landscaping, which harbor the carpenter ants.)...

Carol said...

Great piece of work, GG. And you've maintained your sense of humor throughout.

Cynthia said...

This is freaking brilliant!

RevDrKate said...

Applause! Applause! I live in an old one too but seldom wax poetic about it!

Kathryn said...

I'm glad to see that the heat hasn't ruined your sense of humor - that was terrific. Good luck with your old house repairs!