“In Passing” by Sybil Pittman Estess

Sybil Pittman Estess


How many before you have decorated
your house, or died here before you?

How many have loved this past or have
loathed their histories here? Who has

rested her body from a day’s tedium?
Who has cooked here for cousins? For

farmers, perhaps, or MD’s? Who made
her own bedspread here, taking five

years? Who quilted, neighbors always
helping her, in her front room? Who

took a photograph of whom? Assume
the house has outlasted weather, tornado,

wind and fire. The persons who harbored
here passed first. But what will our kids

do with these buildings? Inherit? Inhabit?
Sell? Well, they could live on or re-invest

house-cash. They could lose it. Use it
or trash. This home you love, the place

you reared them, will pass on. The deed.
So all of your doings. (Including your books.)

They may all pass to strangers. Even
your enemy could end up owning your

locks. Strange knobs and walls. Stranger
keys. Look at our snap-your-finger days

here. Think of them as your ways. Think
these thoughts often, of houses, in passing.

from Rattle #23, Spring 2005


Sybil Pittman Estess: “I love deserts, New Mexico, Southern California, my family, my friends, good poetry, literature and art—and also psychology. I live in a sixty-plus-year-old house in Texas, was reared in Mississippi, educated in Texas, Kentucky, and New York. My husband and I have just built a new log house in Colorado. Life is often paradoxical and complex. It is always moving.”

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