Moon on the porch thumps his tail when I climb

the stairs.

— from “Moon on the Porch” by Eloise Klein Healy

4353020177_985af183c1Say “porch.” Say it heavy with O and R. Say it as if it has two syllables and two round Os.  Say it without the R and make it more like a dog than ever.  Say it, and I see.

I see a mountain cabin, grayed-off with age.  Rocks or their new cousin cinderblocks holding up the corners.  I see plank steps, and always a rocking chair. The pitch of a slanted roof hanging above. Sometimes an old washing machine.

A steep driveway runs up beside the place – gravel long washed to only the heaviest crumble.  Two windows front the house behind, and inside, I know there’s a potbelly stove.

Say “porch,” and I see a porch I have never visited, not even with all my mountain living.  Certainly, never a porch I’ve owned or lived behind.  Not even now, in this farmhouse set against a mountain.

Say “porch” and I see the stories I have sucked in through my nostrils like so much sweet, tender pipe smoke.  From  Lick Creek and Big Stone Gap and the legends of the Appalachian places I cling to as home.

Stories shape memories. Build archetypes. Form what it is to be “porch” for me. Resonate, laden, setting and home.

You may see a Los Angeles bungalow, all Craftsmen peaks and roofs behind the steady perch of stuccoed pillars.  Or maybe the stoop of a suburban Texas neighborhood, hanging baskets and patio pavers.

These images shaped by your stories or the ones you’ve let lick your mind until they become a part of the wrinkles in your mind.

A single word – molded by millions of stories – the hound dog of memory and fiction – and the beautiful, grayed-off space in between.

What words conjure up specific memories for you?