The House of Joy
By: Lara O'Connor
Seek your restoration
Build a house of joy
Wild the banks with goldenrod and asters
Let there be a gate, for decoration
To hold the Welcome
To hold the list of all possible renewals
Where grace grows old as an orchard
Where Magic is heard
And no longer silent
Where the Crow flies in with his message
Of nesting and navigation
Resource is all around us
Do the dance of the transformation of matter
It will break your heart
It will build you another heart
And your broken heart will be a skylight in that heart
And this will happen again and again
Until you are an impossible mosaic
A soul made visible in a Rose Window.
Lara is a cook and the mother of three boys. She's new to writing and fell in love with it as a less conspicuous means of daydreaming and excellent way to avoid washing the dishes.
"The backstory: at the time I wrote the poem, I was just coming out of several years of intense crisis. My (now ex) husband had cheated on me, and then fallen critically ill. Twice in a row my life had been shattered and everything turned upside down. I was holding it together as best I could, though reeling from multiple traumas. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. My trust in the world was broken. *I* felt shattered. When the crises had passed, I began to think about restoration. About how to begin even naming all that had happened to me, and the subsequent effects on my body and soul. I was also house hunting. I went to see an old stone farmhouse, vacant for nearly a decade, structurally sound (I hoped) but cosmetically tumbling down. The land was beautiful but overgrown. Walking the property, I thought about how when we restore a house, the damage is easy to see and name. We can look at stained, crumbling plaster and name water damage. Rodent damage. Bad wiring. The normal vagaries of time. We assess it for what it is—both cause and effect. And we make a plan to fix it. What if I could approach my own restoration so cleanly? What if I could just say what happened, and how it hurt me, without fear or shame or complication? What if I could heal myself with a kind of artisan’s attention? A damaged building shows what happens to physical matter assailed by the world. And that we can choose—then plan—to resurrect what’s viable, to reshape it into something new and functional. Could I engineer such renewal for myself?" The instant the question appeared, the poem followed in answer. I wrote it right there in the car, on my phone.