Final Inspection

by Susan Rothlein

Last day to stand in my home
of twenty-three years and still call
it my house. Tomorrow we meet
to sign papers, hand over keys
and garage door clickers to new owners.
Yesterday our furniture was carried
out the front door, stacked in a van along
with boxes of carefully paper-wrapped
plates and glasses, cartons packed full
of books, paintings and photos protected
in plastic bubbles. Now I listen
to the echoing murmur of the buyers
in the living room, making their
plans, checking for the light fixtures and
fireplace screen we agreed to leave. I hear
the two girls squeal, run in the hall
between bedrooms weighing charms
and drawbacks of each. The rooms where
my children giggled and whispered secrets
before heading off to adult lives
in new cities. I slip through the kitchen
with its eerie empty counter tops, out
to the backyard. One last look at the camellias
and crepe myrtles that will bloom
next year without me, and find myself
in the shady corner by the fence where grass
never grew, where the ground was soft
and it was easy to dig deep, bury four family cats.
Where the dirt holds on to our story.

Susan Rothlein moved to Asheville in 2010 and enjoys the many resources here for exploring writing. Her poetry has appeared in The Great Smokies Review and Iodine Poetry Journal.