“What’s he building in there?”

A version of this question in Tom Waits’s song/poem arises as I bicycle around neighborhoods where I live. I see windows that should open to the world outside, doors that I would like to open. Yet they are closed. What’s going on in there? I see signs of life-marks made by people who live there: arrangements and ornamentation. These outward and visible signs of hidden lives fascinate me, and I wonder about the people who made them.

As I ride through these neighborhoods, at times I feel afraid, at times amused, but mainly I’m curious. What’s inside? I want to know what’s behind the windows and doors, but I am blocked. The houses forbid entry.

And yet, as I keep looking, a calm comes over me. Maybe I’m not supposed to go inside. Maybe there is something going on inside that is personal, private. The houses silently barricade and protect. I get quiet.



Phyllis Finley © 2006 all rights reserved