Spite House


By Michele Battiste

It’s not what you would remember
if you could remember. Bits of sky missing
behind white, unnecessary pillars. Gazebos
sporadic throughout municipal grounds.
They dredged the river. They dammed
the river. A decorative fountain
where the house everyone hated
stood. Everyone looked away.

When I say everyone hated the house
I mean it was condemned. It was
demolished tastefully. Taking
into account its proximity to a well-lit
intersection. The family received
a check. You would remember
the son. In school he was quiet but not
ashamed. After school we snuck
to his house and leaned heavily
against the siding, stared at the others
who came, chose who we wanted.

The town council thought a fountain
had more teeth than a bench. Sent a message
of what will and will not be tolerated.
The family was not indifferent. The river had
many locks then. It still cannot be disciplined.

Some say they left their house standing
out of spite. I say we are lucky to be
left standing and everyone knows
where they went.


Michele Battiste is the author of three books of poems, including Waiting for the Wreck to Burn, which won the 2018 Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press and will be published in early 2019. Michele lives in Colorado where she raises funds to save the planet. www.michelebattiste.net