Ode on an Abandoned House

Wind and rain, here
are the keys
to the house—
a missing door,
two broken windows.

Birds, for you a room
with a view—the bedroom,
which once held
the moon and stars
out of sight.

Ants and worms,
such sad witnesses,
the grass uncut,
the yard overgrown
are again yours to inherit.

And you, the leaves whirling
across buckled floors,
please take
my father’s voice

May you live forever,
may you bury me.


Copyright © 2020 by Hayan Charara. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The phrase ‘may you bury me’ is a translation of the Arabic colloquialism تقبرني, which expresses a fervent wish for loved ones to outlive the speaker because of how unbearable life would be should those loved ones die first. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, and adults in general use it as a term of endearment with children. As for the abandoned house, it is the one in which I grew up, in Detroit.”
Hayan Charara