All Our Foundations Are Gone

steps with no house
Imaginary House

All Our Foundations Are Gone

There used to be a house here

snug against the hill

three floors

and steps to an upper terraced yard

in this impossible spot.

That was before the road was this busy

and its door opened right into traffic.

Now all that is left is a limestone foundation

and broken plastered walls with faded pink paint

embedded into the layered shale hillside,

and a chipped whitewashed alcove where the Blessed Virgin Mary

once spread her hands and watched over the home from above.

Soon even that will be gone

and a new road will carry away

the last memory of the founders of this place.

Poem © 2010 Bernadette E. Kazmarski


I am always sad to see old neighborhoods decay and fall to the wrecking ball, buried under with the backhoe. I’m not against progress, and sometimes a neighborhood has lived its span and is ready to be removed. But for better or worse, those old neighborhoods carry memories of individuals and the collective, people lived and died there, and they are the foundations of what we are today. Without them we are in danger of forgetting both the good we’ve done, and the bad, at risk of forgetting our roots and also repeating the same mistakes we made in the past.

This photo was taken in a city neighborhood, obviously on the top of a hill, a Victorian-style house that fell to decay after standing empty a decade or so and needed to be taken down for the safety of the neighborhood.

The poem was written as I watched what had been a two-lane road out of the city which had at one time been a thriving neighborhood all on its own wither as the road became busier and wider, and the homes and businesses closed and stood unused. Seeing the stately old houses, some with lace curtains still in the windows, fall apart and be removed, revealing the pastel paint colors of the walls, faded flowered wallpaper, the structures of what people had made their own home place, was very sad thinking of the lives and events that might be forgotten in the process.

Read other poetry on this site or visit the poetry section on my website.

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