House and Home

HERE is my house and home; next door the neighbors
Live in another landscape over frontier,
Their washing waves on a foreign line, their children
Chatter away and laugh in a strange language
Across another world where they are native.
I smile and pass them by, less than their shadows
Barely perceived in my preoccupation:
How shall I ask for knowledge of my neighbors
When I am here, not there? This is heart’s hiding
Bricked all around me, house well built for winter.
Who is my neighbor? Each man working blindfold
Builds his own home beside the next man’s building;
Unmatched the paints and patterns hit the housetops
With none to care; each sees his own house only
Until the eyes are opened, seldom, seldom.
We’re all anonymous even to ourselves here,
And I’ve made prison for myself, pretending
To help me dream myself known and at home here
Locked solitary in, till my free spirit jibbing
Broke out of that dream to be awake, much wiser.
Now through the four hard walls of my belonging
Altered I will go out and see my landscape,
These little bricks, toy house huddled around me,
Myself in middle of me hibernating,
And all too small — I have a better birthright:
Let me be one among these living others,
Their homes and mine must make one pattern of persons
Living and loved, in each of them my neighbor
Living beside me, loved vivid and sacred,
And all his children laughing in my language.
GEORGE ALLEN