My attraction to deserted houses is a deep-seated one, one which has fueled my creative and expressive priorities for nearly fifty years. The obvious issues of abandonment and decay come with these discarded dwellings, but it is the echo of past human presence that appeals to me the most strongly. This is what I felt when I visited the empty apartment in Amsterdam in which Anne Frank once lived and dreamed, what I experienced when I walked through the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, where Emerson and Hawthorne lived and penned their extraordinary literary visions, and what moved me so deeply when I looked down on William Faulkner’s simple bed at Rowan Oaks. For me, the empty house presents a splendid paradox; that which is so barren is also so replete.
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“What I recall most clearly about the deserted house in the snow was its fragile sense of presence. Standing there, gutted and abused, it seemed to be beg the coming night for another morning.”
“Whispers float like ashes on a sea of pain, while somewhere in Alabama the pale horse runs.”
“Some simply called it the dark house, the place where the Dedmon twins lived until they were institutionalized in 1955. It is said that a surviving sister comes each year on their birthday and leaves a present, but I’ve never seen her.”
“The house was resting in the open field, as if placed there by someone and forgotten. That it was empty came as no surprise, but I was startled to find a single place setting at a table near one of the windows. The larger surprise came when I approached the table and looked down at the plate. In its center, I found a solitary crow’s feather.”