THE CHIMNEY

A solitary sentinel standing still

High upon that graceful hill

A chimney of stones from the valley below

Keeping watch where the wildflowers grow

 

The house is now gone, the timbers long rotten

Stories of the home too soon forgotten

Tales of love and memories too

Of how in that house a family grew

 

He was a wandering man of many skills

And he led her there to the top of the hill

And promised her a magnificent life

If she’d only agree to be his wife

 

He built her a house in that very spot

With a grand old fireplace to make fires hot

He carried each stone all the way from the creek

Some days he was too tired to even speak

 

They married in Spring in 1901

By the next year’s beginning they’d added a son

That winter was harsh, but by comparison mild

To the winter she gave birth to a stillborn child

 

Her tears were bitter, her pain was immense

That’s when she begged him to build her a fence

To keep out the curious with prying eyes

They came to ask questions while carrying pies

 

He started to think she would never recover

Began to feel lonely and consider a lover

And he never forgot the pain on her face

When she walked in and caught him in another’s embrace

 

She stopped him in time but he still paid the cost

And hated himself for what he’d almost lost

But she forgave him and gave him another child

Though she made him work hard to bring back her smile

 

Oh the stories that fireplace could tell

of laughter and love and war’s cruel Hell

of Sunday bonnets and cowboy hats

wagging puppies and lounging cats

 

Of the way she would dance around with a broom

while sweeping the floor in that wonderful room

and together they’d cuddle in front of the fire

plotting and planning and together conspire

 

To fill the stockings hung nearby

and together they’d laugh when the children would spy

the presents wrapped there under the tree

“This one’s for you!” and “That one’s for me!”

 

Some years were simple and others were tough

Some meals were scarce, others more than enough

But they built and they dreamed and they scrimped and saved

Some kids were naughty and others behaved

 

Growing up by that fire, playing with toys

Four little girls and three little boys

The chimney stood proudly, a welcoming friend

From early morning to daylight’s end

 

It heard lover’s quarrels and sibling spats

warmed delightful dimples and little brats

Always there to thaw out the toes

dry out their hair or freshly washed clothes

 

It stood there the day three sons went to war

And watched her in silence while the letter she tore

Drying her tears as the fire burned

Three soldiers left, only two returned

 

The children all grew and had kids of their own

And they each loved the fireplace in that gracious home

They knew every chink in that beautiful stone

He would mark every year how much they had grown

 

Until the year that he died and they found him face down

He’d been picking her flowers to wear like a crown

And they always said she was never the same

She’d wander the hill, calling his name

and wait by the fire but he never came

 

One Spring morning they found her there

In her wedding dress with blooms in her hair

Facing the stone where his grave was laid

leaned against the chimney that her man had made

 

Her spirit was gone but her face held a smile

She’d died sitting there thinking all the while

Of all the things that bound that home

She was the mortar and he was the stone

 

The chimney

Written by Elizabeth Carey 2014

 

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