What follows is a "found poem" I wrote based on artifacts (of writing) I unearthed in foreclosures. After that poem is what I recall of a transcript of a social worker's visit to a foreclosure. It is partly from that transcript I found inspiration for the poem below. Regarding the transcript, I have taken creative license so as to remove the names of the parties. Photos of the house mentioned in the transcript follow.
Thank you for your interest.
I have worked many hours collecting
what you see here: FERN STAND, ROCKER, BUTTERFLY COUCH,
stallions and bulldogs, Ashleigh's college-ruled
ambition, Baby Emilie revealed by the light of a lampshade,
The Courage of Ann, the ships
a kid named Michael would sink if he were King
of the ocean — American Hearts
specially trained to assist visitors
in this book of dreams our fathers built for us,
hammer, saw, machete.
This is my only copy.
[Client is being neglected by his daughter. Client lives in the far end of the house and may take a while to get to the door if the daughter is not home. Referent wants a call back.]
I got the impression that the home had been quite attractive at one time but had been neglected for years. The property itself overlooks Gig Harbor and has a view. The exterior is in a state of some neglect but certainly is not as “cluttered with junk” as one might assume from the description given by the referent. It certainly was not overtly unhygienic or dangerous. I did not detect any bad stenches, no signs of insects or infestation by rodents or other animals. I was greeted at the door by the alleged perpetrator. She let me into the home and was very cooperative with this writer. She stated she had been worried about “something like this.”
She and her father had recently obtained a reverse mortgage. She had set the money aside in order to do repair work on the roof. She knew it was her father’s wish to remain in his home. She knew there were improvements needed to the home. She was trying to decide whether to remain in the home and fix it up so that her father could live out his life as he stated he wanted to, or whether it should be sold with the two of them moving into a smaller dwelling that would be easier to care for, or whether her father should be placed in care. She and her son both provide assistance for her father. He has become increasingly difficult to care for, especially resistive when she tries to bathe him. Her father’s care needs coupled with the burdens of these decisions were clearly taking a toll on her. She so stated and this writer so observed.
She then took me to the family room and introduced me to her father. Her father was dressed in clean clothing and appeared to be generally quite content. He was most cordial with this writer. I explained to him the purpose of my visit. He stated that he understood. There did appear to be significant defects in his memory, however. When I asked today’s date he initially stated that it was April, 1962. He then paused and looked a bit confused and stated that he didn’t think he had gotten it right. The reached for the TV Guide and looked at the date at the top, correctly citing the accurate date. He appeared a bit embarrassed. He was unable to name the current president. When questions seemed too difficult for him, he would refuse to answer or make a joke. For example, when I asked him to interpret the proverb “Don’t cry over spilt milk,” he stated, “Oh, boo hoo hoo, there’s always more milk.” When I asked him to subtract seven from one hundred, he stated, laughing loudly, “Oh, I don’t know. That’s three hundred and something.”
He was able to answer some questions involving judgment items correctly, however, and was able to correctly interpret the proverb “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” He was able to state that an apple and an orange are alike because they are both round fruits. However, he could not remember any of three common items after a brief delay.
He was able to clearly state, repeatedly, that it was his wish to remain in his home. He also stated that his daughter was providing good care for him. He had no complaints. He said that he and his wife had adopted five children, and, in addition, had had fifteen foster children. He often deferred to his daughter for clarification of questions. For example, when I asked him how long he had lived at his home, she shouted out to his daughter (who was in the kitchen, adjacent), “How long have we lived here?”
I believe I detected alcohol on his daughter's person, but she did not appear to be intoxicated. Rather, I got the impression that this may have been from alcohol consumed the day before. She is a chain smoker and did smoke several cigarettes during my interview. She apologized for the condition of the house and pointed out with some irony that she herself is a professional house cleaner.
She stated, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”