The Derelict Homestead



Sparrows build scruffy nests

between the decayed grass roof and sagging timbers.

Always inquisitive, the Karoo breeze meanders in

through a broken doorway


only to hurry out of gaping windows.

Precious desert rain,

quickly vanishes beneath rotted floorboards

where in the dappled stillness,

scorpions and cobras find shelter.


It seems that,

even for the elements,

loneliness here is too extreme to abide.


© WW Schwim, 2014

Photo by author.


Old buildings, houses or barns, in remote places always bring on feelings of melancholy. In my mind I try to imagine what it was like when newly built and home to a family. A young wife struggling to come to terms with the isolation. The never ending struggle to feed a family with no stores in the neighborhood. Having to give birth with no doctor or midwife. Dealing with childhood illnesses and diseases. The list is frightening, and yet that was the life for many a young pioneer wife.

Did they walk away broken in spirit and poorer than when they arrived?

I know you said it isn’t about an old house, but as I have no idea what it could be a metaphor for, I’m afraid these are the thoughts it evoked in me.

Patricia Curtis