Conversation with the Tsatsawassa House

Bernadette: O sweet delightful house
why do so many things get lost in you?

House: Maybe you just dream you lose them.

B: How do you know what dreams are?

H: I pride myself on knowing everything you know.

B: Oh, so you know we’re getting you new windows?

H: I have trouble with no & know. With knew & new too.
Why do people do that?

B: I don’t know; I don’t mean I don’t no.

H: See, you make it hard for a house. Anyway I don’t
usually speak.

B: Do you write poetry?

H: I dabble. I don’t know if it’s poetry or prose though.

B: It’s prose — it’s shaped like you.

H: What about my roof?

B: That would be a concrete poem.

H: Even the time the tree fell through it?

B: That would be a different genre, perhaps
conceptual art.

H: I’d like to climb mountains. You can leave me
whenever you want but I’m stuck with you.

B: What was it like when people prayed in you?

H: It was kind of creepy. I liked the Jewish people
better — more love of life. People can do anything they
want to me, I’d like to be more proactive. I’m just
stuck here. Even a cult could move in.

B: I’ve never been a therapist for a house. How was
your childhood? Were you born?

H: I was made of mostly local stuff. Don’t set me
me on fire. I tremble every time you light that wood stove.

B: There was no heat when we moved into you; there
were also 24 doors.

H: Don’t blame me, I didn’t do it.

B: You didn’t do anything but be here like an immobile
tree, but you provided shelter. Can houses tremble?
Do you have a sex life?

H: None of your business. The sex life of houses isn’t
known to humans, nor will it ever be.

B: You seem to have mastered grammar but not homonyms.

H: I liked it when I was unoccupied, full of birds’ nests
on the porch & ghosts inside, I felt fulfilled.

B: How did you like the Hebrew books?

H: They reminded me of my bat mitzvah.

B: You never told me you were Jewish.

H: I thought you’d never ask.

More Poems by Bernadette Mayer