Edith Farnsworth’s House

2019-10-01T11:03:18+00:00September 11th, 2019|

by Lisa Macaione

Perched along the banks of the Fox River,
glass walls bound by painted white steel.
Each season she arrived,
steering her car through uncut grasses
against the wishes
of the imposing architect
with whom she designed this vision.
(History remembers him,
but the house bears her name.)

In it, she dwelled alone—
feet treading stone floors,
hands pulling closed
the single outside door.
She didn’t decorate the way he wanted.
She filled the space with unrestraint,
brought books and records,
placed priceless ancient art
and worn, eclectic goods
inside the modern display.

On the lower deck, the bridge
between elevated house
and sloping earth,
she stationed two Chinese lions to stand guard.
This was her kingdom, built
with her treasury, her escape
from the grit of Chicago, a world
where a woman should also be a wife,
where music and poetry and medicine
were the professions of men.
Here, in this house with no rooms,
she was her own
one-woman Renaissance.

Tall as a tall man, back sore
not from standing at a stove,
but an operating table,
she slid shut the curtains,
lay upon a bare mattress,
and slumbered in her darkened fortress.
Rays of sunlight peering between the pleats
awakened her, a new day
in this house of stubborn steel
glass reflections.
Hers alone to seize. ■

 

 

Lisa Macaione is a college English instructor, a writing group facilitator, and a former staff member of the Farnsworth House museum in Plano, Illinois. Her work has appeared in Literary Mama, the Kane County Chronicle, and ArtsFest St. Charles, among others. She was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, and after a time away, now lives with her husband and two daughters in the town where they grew up.

Cover image by by Jack Boucher, via Wikimedia Commons.

Belt Magazine is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To support more independent writing and journalism made by and for the Rust Belt and greater Midwest, make a donation to Belt Magazine, or become a member starting at $5 per month.

 

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