childhood home

By: Emily Martin

she is four years old
toddling around
on wooden floors
like a spinning top,
too short to reach the cabinets or
see above the sink,
clambering atop
to reach her
pink plastic glasses

she is six years old,
a big girl now,
backpack hanging off of her shoulders,
bounding down the bus steps
after her first day of kindergarten.
through the garage and
into the kitchen,
into the smell
of freshly baked cookies
and into a mother’s arms

she is sixteen
curled up on a couch
in the dim lit basement
in the arms of a boy.
in love.
they smile as their lips part ways.
and when he leaves
(later than her parents had asked)
she knows just where to step
so the floor doesn’t squeak

and suddenly,
she is eighteen
her room bare now,
reduced to boxes
and packed in a car for her move up north.
old toys, clothes, letters, and trophies
are the ghosts of her presence
and the house feels empty without her

twenty two now
returning home from college
visiting her siblings
visiting her old room
visiting everything.
the walls are different colors,
the carpet is new,
paintings and pictures have moved.
everything smells different than she’d remembered.
the house had kept on without her

she is forty years old
dressed in her best,
children in tow,
walking up the old porch steps.
the house is cleaned,
removed of its usual dirt and clutter,
memories and comforts
from childhood.
the way you’d prepare it for guests.