These Walls

upstairs downstairs SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein


How many did these laboriously

Hewed walls

Close in on

As they trudged endlessly

With buckets laden

And arms weighted

Up and down

And up and down again

For more?


How many did they shelter

Under siege

Of catapults and

Rusted arrows

As the walls shuddered


Onto the bitten lips

And rounded shoulders

Of those crouched below?


How many hastened feet

Did these walls keep secrets for

Under the cover of


And sentries’ snores

As lovers met

In darkened corners

To remember

Life before?




For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Wall



22 thoughts on “These Walls

    • These questions come up for me in almost any place of any age … for there is so much life that was lived there before I’d seen them … and much that wasn’t told, for the stories we hear of history are very selectively those of these who’d had the education and power and permission to record them. Castles, especially, because stone walls ‘keep’ (in more way than one, I suppose), speak to me that way, but not only castles or underground chambers. Lighthouses, too, old ruins, empty hulls of cathedrals, old homes, remnants of cabins, stone-lined roads. There is a lot of history in all of them, and it intrigues me. πŸ™‚
      Great comment, Crispina! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have a photo of the same or at least a very similar place. It is from the steps to the dungeons at castle Cahir Ireland. Your poem sums up the thoughts I had when I was there. It’s a creepy place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe it is so though I have to ask my niece exactly where she took it — she was taking photos all over Europe and visited a good share of creepy castles … πŸ˜‰ I think this was in Germany/Austria but I might be mistaken.


      • I believe there is. You look at the indigenous cultures that often held sacred services underground, ‘sacrificed’ to the underground deities by burying people alive in the dark, and had at the same time used underground spaces to store food and water and to hide in emergencies. I think the fascination with protection (in and from) the underground and the helplessness implied in being LEFT there or LOCKED there is something quite primal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is an interesting point of view. Being underground makes me very uncomfortable but I can see how sometimes it could feel protective.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I think it’s often a matter of association and experience, and perhaps, personality. A friend of mine grew up in “Tornado Alley” in the US and she remembers feeling snug as a bug in a rug whenever she was in the basement of her grandparents house. It’s a story I may put into one of the little writing pieces, perhaps. But … just to illustrate that for some it might feel safe, while for others it may hold connotations of entrapment and lack of light and so on. I certainly personally prefer the open air and being above ground (though I’ve rented basement apartments in the past, when it was what I could afford – and it was a shelter and a home-for-a-time, if not my preference …). πŸ™‚


      • Luckily I’ve never lived in a basement. They aren’t so common over here in Australia. I guess some people feel safe underground but for me – no way! πŸ™‚

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      • The basement I lived in wasn’t TOTALLY underground (I’d have trouble with that, I think) but had windows that were set near the ground on the outside of the house, but high on the walls of the basement. I could look out and see grass and people’s feet and “a piece of sky” that always reminded me of Streisand’s song in Yentel … πŸ˜‰
        It was a necessity at the time, financially it was what I could afford, and there was the added safety of the families that owned (and lived in) the house above and rented the ‘finished basement’ …. But, it was hardly my preferred way to live.
        I felt happy to have a roof over my head in a relatively safe area and in a price I could (just about) afford, but I can’t say the almost-underground aspect of it was comforting in of itself … It was more about just dealing with it.
        And fortunately in both cases the families that rented the homes and essentially shared the space above my head were nice families.
        Not really missing it, though … πŸ˜‰


      • There are tenement houses like that in inner city Melbourne but I have never lived in one. I used to walk past a row of them on my home and wonder what it would be like to live in one. They look romantic in movies πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • The houses I lived in were a bit outside the City proper and so were average-family detached (or semi-detached) homes, and less romantic … πŸ˜‰ But their basement levels were probably similar in some way or the other to the buildings I’d rented a basement ‘apartment’ in.
        That said, yes, the “Brown Stones” that we have in NYC (and there are such in other metropolitan areas) are romantic in many ways. Sometimes they are lovely inside. Sometimes they are not so lovely.
        Like people? πŸ˜‰


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