There are still houses there in that old neighborhood. Ghosts live there now. The apparitions we call the homeless are as forgotten as the dilapidated roofs and broken front porches. There's hardly a man alive that can describe the children's echos and homecoming warmth of freshly cut grass wafting from groomed backyards and murmurs of laughter spilling out of front windows into the streets. Great chasms in the asphalt with lonesome and mostly dead weeds erupt from the streets now. Broken glass and ominous silence hang from the windows much as the faded and tattered drapes do.
Amoung all this looms an old mansion at the border of this neighborhood in no man's land. With rapidly withdrawing pride the walls sink inward and its roof looks to the floor for support. Someone boarded all the entrances and left her to die. The event passed without much notice. This great house, shelter to workers, then families, then the desperate now takes its last stand. How is one to escape the fascination of all that lived here? Bright Christmas' with families huddled together in love. A new couple engaged in life's endeavor of bearing and raising good children. Old people regaling stories of all that has happened in this house and to this city with smiles and a fondness that only years can develop.
In so many ways this house is haunted. If you walk through it, you can see where pictures were hung carefully. Artworks made with careful hands hung with precision. Photos of people – all dead now. A slightly lighter hue of dust grey is the only memorial to these things. Walls that protected so many people only harbour the emptiness left. Some of these phantasmal photos are strewn across the floors. The last occupant left in a hurry. The house warned them of its weakness and cast them out to endure the rest of its years alone.
Slow death is its protest to the passage of time. Its purpose has been served and there is nothing left, except what it used to be. The light that shone from out the windows is now extinguished and reminds me of cavernous dark pits. It stands now as a monolith of abandonment.
With equal fascination I look at the house as if it were new, or under construction. What great hope this building represented. Its huge form rose high amoung its neighbors and with pride it stood in the new neighborhoods of the area. With it, the promise of a century or more of warmth and protection. Three floors containing all the potential and hope for the future that any person could store in there hearts and minds. Its outer walls painted a brilliant red by the careful stroke of a skilled hand. This is where marriage proposals would happen. Where babies would cry out for the love of their mothers. Where teenagers would sneak out the windows to seek friends and first kisses. Where key's would be handed from father to child to drive on their own for the first time. Where hugs and kisses would be exchanged when someone moved out to find their own home far away from that place. Where tears and sadness would flow like a torrent through the halls when one of its residents died.
People would walk through its front door never thinking of this house as it is now. They would be completely ignorant to the foundation that would fail long after they left. The wooden siding rotting and returning to the earth. The bricks falling away from the structure to rot with centuries of age and neglect. Fresh streams of water spilling trough shingles and its wooden bones no longer able to shelter anything below. There it stands solemn. It's dead. So is everything around it.
This is a requiem for a monument.