Come in, relax, take off your shoes!
Would you like something? A drink?
Sure, take a look around—don't mind the mess…
The driveway is shaped like a tape measure,
and pulls you in as it rolls up to the front door.
The street is gone from this world.
By the time you’ve walked up the concrete steps to the veranda
(we just call it "the front porch")
the house has welcomed you,
opening itself to you before you even step in the wide open front door
with its huge glass, and glass all around the whole first floor.
If you're shy, you can walk around 'most the whole house
on that veranda (to the "back terrace")
where the rest of the view will welcome you, too,
as if you own all the land and houses
down to the arroyo, north to Suicide Bridge
and south to Camel's Hump.
What a great place you have, you’ll say.
Yes, we say (though we belong to it more than it to us)
The terrace doors will be open, too,
and the ones from the music room,
but you don't have to go inside yet
if you don't want to—the drinks and the sunset
are out here anyway.
Just take off your shoes and lean back.
Hoot for the owl and click your fingernails to confuse the bats;
it's nice to watch them black against the dusk.
Gatherings of any size (even two or three) are rare here, but last long.
Whatever time it is now, it seems like it’s always that time.
A few minutes and days later we'll find you in the kitchen, debating,
or picking a TV show in the living room
or lost in the hallway that elbows twice on the way to the bathroom
or plucking plums and apricots and avocados to keep them from the squirrels
or down the hill, getting lemons,
or 'round the back for lavender and rosemary
or pouring yourself a drink and looking in the fridge.
Where's the cork-puller? you’ll ask as you dry dishes in your bare feet.
Check the drawers, comes the answer, and you do.
How long have I lived here? you’ll think.
We don’t question it.
According to this place, everyone is a relative, belongs here.
Whatever goes in the ground takes root:
it's a wild natural riot of bermuda, camphor, myrtle, roses, geraniums,
Mexican elder, bougainvillea, creeping fig and periwinkle
with eucalyptus, pepper, vinca, cactus, oak and pomegranate in the back.
Every now and then somebody waters or prunes,
but mostly everyone's on his own,
from the skunks in the basement to the occasional raccoon in the attic,
or coyote on the drive:
We're all welcome here.
Here, the earth, the house, the wild creatures
work a strange imperceptible spell.
We all grow wild, go barefoot;
Take off your shoes!
—you're standing on holy ground.
Because of my experience of a childhood home, I have believed that each of us has at least one place which becomes a part of our DNA. Maybe not—many of us move house so often. Is there a place for you that is an important part of your identity?