The Legacy of Buildings

After all the people leave—

The raucous laughter has died down, goodbyes have been said,

The lights have all gone out, and people have left for some other party—

What happens to a building?

 

After all of the hearts

That make a house, a temple, a school, an office, any place—a home,

What happens to the building?

 

Sure, it falls into derelict disrepair,

And as time passes

Wood rots, glass breaks, stone erodes, vines grow…

Until only fragments remain, buried

Under ash and earth, like Troy and Pompeii

 

But what happens to the remnants of a people, left

In the art of their architecture, in the evidence of their skill—

As every dome, every arch, every wall, every brick

Contains the remnants, the memories, the fingerprints

Of the man who dreamt it, the man who made it, the man who owned it.

(Thus, statues still dance their numbers, cherubs sing their pieces to the pews,

Rows of columns usher in stunning vistas, staircases climb to great views,

Buttresses hold up their rooftop masters, aloft in their luxurious sedan chairs,

And the rococo balustrades call out in polite French to the lintels,

Which reply in a guttural German.)

 

Indeed, a time will come to pass

When the future will strive to rebuild the past

To recall the grandeur of those that couldn’t last—

All those long, long years.

 

But even if they are rebuilt, these buildings,

Reconstructed brick-by brick, stone-by-stone,

They will never be the same.

For now, these bricks contain new memories,

Memories of a people concerned with preserving the past,

Trying to capture the radiance of the previous occupants

But only obtaining a faint glimmer of all it once was.

Which begs the question: Why do we wish to preserve our culture, our soul,

If it serves no purpose after our inevitable fall?

Or even: Why do we need to be remembered at all?

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