I often boast about being descended from shepherds, which is also the most traditional occupation in Romania (one of our oldest folk ballads features shepherds – albeit, quarrelling ones). There is no one in the younger generation to keep the tradition going, but maybe if I had a hut like one of those below, I might change my mind!
If you don’t have a garden or a big enough one for a shed, then these little chalets, huts, houses might tempt you – most of them are open to paying overnight guests.
I hope I’ll be welcoming when you sweep in after your long journey
you’d trail mud across the cream tiles
you’d waft in earthy sweat
loam encrusted in your gnarled fingers
you’d print my white door frame
your voice would boom and scare my children
with toothless joviality as you snatch
their kisses fierce and wet.
I don’t pretend I chose my setting.
The colour scheme’s not mine
I added touches, too timid perhaps,
family pictures and drawings.
You’d break the symmetry of photos
you’d want to point at your descendants
and trace each trait to some Carpathian shepherd
with wrinkle-lined eyes from gazing too long at the sun.
You would not miss my recoil
even as you laugh it off.
I would not miss your sharp intake
of breath as bleach fills up your nostrils
You laugh at how antiseptic, how shrivelled I’ve become,
how I pay someone else to muddle up
my colour-coordinated mops and sponges
while I read books on sofas.
I hoped I’d be welcoming.
But I fear it turns out
deracination is not just for plants.
Overwhelmed with house guests this week, so just a quick poem here (not about the current guests, but about my great-grandfather, the Carpathian shepherd).