Elegy for My Childhood Home By Tyler Gadaire

Elegy for My Childhood Home

I don’t go back expecting a grave; I expect to see lupines – violet, sweet blue –
behind the grass-laced dirt hill. I expect to see the shedding of pine trees

under our homemade swings, odd planks of wood left over from firewood,
tethered with rope. I expect the dusty garage that was never used as a garage;

its walls and floors cluttered with cardboard boxes and scattered tools,
branches and the broken pieces of chalk that my sister and I use to trace

our hands and draw long lines across the floor with, so we can play four-square
when mom worked at the hospital. I want to walk inside and see the small, brick-orange

kitchen with its oak shelves, the white, faux-leather table seats that leaned too far back
to be safe. I want to go past the front-porch door that jammed shut after a break-in

and go upstairs to my room. I want to see the walls – olive green, too sour to be
mint – and lean against the open window that sat next to the stripped mattress

on the floor, so I can smell the potato field behind the house, the odd patch
of birch trees by the rusted-out trampoline and the mix of gas and steel

that plumed from the lawn-mower when it cranked on. I need the smallness
of my closet again, and the cracked Walkman I hid inside of it – wires exposed

from the foam of cheap earbuds – where I can drown everything out,
where I can shrink into and hide when my step-father’s face burns red,

his words searing every wall in the house. I need the thin notebook
covered in comic book stickers and terrible drawings, where I can write

words down like “hate” and “father” and “hurt” and “help”; I want to run
outside when his anger boils over and escape to the front yard, go past

mom’s garden – snapdragons, zinnias, sea-holly and daffodils – and sink
into the lilac bush hugging the tilted telephone-pole. I need the quiet stillness

that seldom breaks in the afternoon, only interrupted in moments
when cars burned their tires veering around the ninety-degree bend in the road

just before the house, or by the clambering of kids who lived in the run-down
trailers across the way, squeezed between the street and a sparse clearing of woods.

I need to be able to stand in the loose-gravel driveway, look up at the house’s
ugly, faded red paint and smile in the shadow of its obscenely tall roof,

a silhouette that stood out against every blazing sunset that snuck over
rows of potatoes in bloom. I want to get out of our Plymouth Oldsmobile

to look at the house for the first time and ask Mom whether this was real.
“It just looks like an abandoned barn,” I tell her as we unpack the car and set light

to our first campfire. I don’t go back expecting a grave,
but all that’s here is ash and soot and the bones we buried.

By Tyler Gadaire

This poem was originally published By Eunoia Review


A native of Aroostook County in Maine, Tyler Gadaire is a 23-year-old graduate of the Univ. of Maine Farmington’s Creative Writing and English program. Tyler’s poetry has been published in Z-Publishing’s Emerging Writer Series, Asterism and Eunoia Review. Tyler is currently working on a draft of his first poetry chapbook.


Leave a Reply