Friday, April 14, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Fourteen: House: Some Instructions

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

When I married in 1994, my husband's sister was in the process of moving from an apartment in Virginia Beach to a new home. In the years that I knew her she packed, moved, and set up house at least 5 times. The first move was to Maryland, then Georgia, then Connecticut. No matter where she went, Pam had a knack for making a house feel like home in a very short span of time.

House: Some Instructions
by Grace Paley

If you have a house
you must think about it all the time
as you reside in the house so
it must be a home in your mind

you must ask yourself (wherever you are)
have I closed the front door

and the back door is often forgotten
not against thieves necessarily

but the wind   oh   if it blows
either door open   then the heat

the heat you’ve carefully nurtured
with layers of dry hardwood

and a couple of opposing green
brought in to slow the fire

as well as the little pilot light
in the convenient gas backup

all of that care will be mocked because
you have not kept the house on your mind

Read the poem in its entirety.

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? The homemaker’s job is one for which all other’s exist. ― C.S. Lewis 
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.


  1. I love Grace Paley. We read this poem when we read Marianne Robinson's HOUSEKEEPING... it's all how you choose to see home in your head.

    1. I adored HOUSEKEEPING. This poem just spoke to me. I don't live in my dream "house" (never have), but it is a home for sure.