Folio: Nine Houses

The Gatekeeper’s Children

You can tell because it’s taken all
The colors and left only the spaces
Between colors where the absence
Of rage and hunger survives.  If you could
Get close you could touch the embers
Of red, the tiny beaks of yellow,
That jab back, the sacred blue that mimics
The color of heaven.  Behind the house
The children digging in the flower beds
Have been out there since dawn waiting
To be called in for hot chocolate or tea
Or the remnants of meals. No one can see
Them, even though children are meant
To be seen, and these are good kids
Who go on working in silence.
They’re called the gatekeeper’s children,
Though there is no gate nor—of course—
Any gatekeeper, but if there were
These would be his, the seven of them,
Heads bowed, knifing the earth. Is that rain,
Snow or what smearing their vision?
Remember, in the beginning they agreed
To accept a sky that answered nothing,
They agreed to lower their eyes, to accept
The gifts the hard ground hoarded.
Even though they were only children
They agreed to draw no more breath
Than fire requires and yet never to burn.

Philip Levine

Marc Elliott, publisher: Color Services LLC


These houses take me back to the house of my childhood... -Maxine Kumin
...about places that I want to visit and revisit in the world of my imagination. -Alan Lightman
The soul is their animation, the exquisite force of life that makes them fairly tremble on the page, so great is the love that these houses hold... They are certainly more than paper and paint. -Ann Patchett