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Kathleen Edwards- House Full of Empty Rooms

I don’t make resolutions, at least not in anticipation of the New Year. But this year, I decided that I’d be more honest. I don’t lie to anyone, except for to myself. Also, I’m the only one I believe about anything.

So, here is the awful truth I have told myself so far:

You will die. Can you believe it? You won’t exist. You have black hair. Your hair doesn’t exist. You have blue eyes. Someone once noticed the circumferences of your irises were navy. That doesn’t make you. They will close. Your parents made you, milk, oatmeal, a bed, shoelaces into bows, birthday balloons, a brother, the sewn ribbons on ballet tutus, excuses, rules, and then exceptions. Your father made that dollhouse. Your mother gave her body. You paint your toes, chew with your mouth open, yawn, take showers as a plan to be clean for life, fall in love, and think it matters when you open up to someone, like it is a gift or an honor, but it doesn’t matter. Someday, no one will remember you. It doesn’t matter. Your eyes will be closed.

I have black hair and blue eyes. But I am a house full of well-appointed, but empty rooms. We are all houses without couches. Most of you believe that you’re full of everlasting furniture, and I envy that.  I wish there were something of me and of all of us that were going to remain. If only I could see my dog, Sasha, again. She seemed to know everything, as if born with faith and the desire to sit and wait and sigh at all the right times. Also, she loved classical music and jazz, but turned down the volume knob during bluegrass. Or my dear friend, Taylor, who was a many-storied house, but couldn’t find any windows. Mostly, I wish I could see my grandmother again, because she filled rooms. Still, she died. In response, rooms emptied.

So, in this time of truth, let me tell you that it is a beautiful sight, this organic and unfettered distance from myself. In the interim, when I’m here, believing in life and in myself, it’s hard watching it pass, working to believe in certain things like tomorrow, blue jeans, oysters, baseball, the late show, genitals, scarecrows, wine noses.

Example: Right now, the man I love is eating an ice cream sandwich. His glasses are on his forehead. He doesn’t need them on his eyes to see up close. It is far away that he needs them to see beyond the chocolate bite, his computer monitor, the television that shows the news, the candles I’ve lit around the room, but me—I’m over here in this mustard-yellow chair with a white wine and a bucket of ice, a black-haired and blue-eyed figure, a bruise, fading from the initial blow into a shadow. I’m far away. I need glasses even to see myself. I am a comet in nighttime polka dots. My toes are painted an OPI color named “William Tell Me All About It.” I pass across the sky, just like millions of people, grasshoppers, amoebas, giraffes, orangutans, cockroaches, earthworms, elephants. It is the greatest honor. But aren’t we secretly let down and incomplete? Like we expect to be greeted by  Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Jesus, Buddha, a graying elephant, a skeptical salamader, an amoeba, and have them circle us and say, “hey, did you get our beautiful joke? Wasn’t it fun? Aren’t we all in the same empty room, with the same amphibious humor?” By then, we get it, and can laugh. We don’t exist, and we don’t care.


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posted by holly.


  1. bruce wrote:

    This was the perfect song to listen to while reading your words. You even threw in some of the lyrics. Death seems so final. The thought that everything comes to an end is depressing. But I find myself longing for these moments of nostalgia and reflection. It makes all the other moments worth it.

    Also, I really love the entire idea of this blog. Songs inspired by writing and songs inspired by writing. It’s something I have always done as well. Writing without music go hand in hand for me.


    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 4:42 am | Permalink
  2. bruce wrote:

    It’s almost 5am and that comment came out all wrong. Well…at least the last paragraph did. What I meant to say was that writing and listening to music go hand in hand. And songs inspired by writing and writing inspired by songs.

    I think I got it right that time.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 4:44 am | Permalink
  3. Dave wrote:

    Sometimes, as a practice, I will go through stretches where I remind myself every day that I will die and there is no escaping it. Every one and every thing that I love or hate or whatever will rot and crumble to dust. When I do this, there’s always a change to this collection of processes that I call myself. But sometimes, I have to stop that because it’s too effective. What is social propriety or even “economic necessity” in the face of that? When I can do that every day and not feel like it’s driving me to act like a mad man eventually, that might be a good thing. Maybe better, would be if it makes me act like a mad man and I’m okay with it.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 6:34 am | Permalink
  4. Dave wrote:

    I did not listen to this song this morning. I awoke to your words and they had such an effect that I had to respond to them. I just listened to this song. That is something. And with your words, another thing again.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

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