a housewarming poem

the view from my new back porch

Along with spending two full days helping us paint walls and haul boxes, Dan Bowman wrote a poem to help us settle in. I love it, and thought you might too.

What does it really mean, after all, to be a new kind of citizen - a citizen of this specific place?

For Jack and Amy, Upon the Occasion of Their New House: Upland, Indiana, June 7, 2013

"For each home ground, we need new maps, living maps, stories and poems, photographs and paintings, essays and songs.  We need to know where we are, so that we may dwell in our place with a full heart."

-Scott Russell Sanders, Writing from the Center

Because you're here,
     because you stayed,
          because we all stayed and

sip cheap red wine,
     belt '80s Christian pop
          with no trace of irony,

prone to make our way
     to the piano
          at that time of evening
to sing softly
     hymns of praise old and new;

           because we talk
of work, our work,
     essays, reviews, poems, songs,
          what we're reading,
our students and classes,
     the shared deep seriousness
          driving us;

because you set four more
     places at Thanksgiving
          for people you barely knew
and the way
     Casey hugs Owen and
          doesn't let go right away
and Rosie and Una emerge
     in their fourth or tenth
          dress-up outfits
or dangle worms in the rain;

     because we kneel together
          week after week
at the altar of peace
     to eat and drink
          of the suffering
and goodness of our Lord;

     because you found
          a rolling hill of Hoosier clay,
a proper back porch
     where one can keep
          an eye on the kids
(and the chickens); because
     from Arkansas and New York
          and Georgia and Seattle
somehow now
     these cornfields seem like home:

          I sing this song,
I lift my voice,
     I sound these strings for
South One Thousand East
     where new maps
          will be drawn, living maps
of full hearts in Middle America,

     songs that open like invitations,
          essays shining like floodlights,
stories that name our souls,
     words ringing
          like bells at communion.