If Walls Could Talk ~ haibun

If Walls Could Talk

Eyes that listen will know a story. The wind whistling past limestone walls on an Ozark bluff, through holes that once wore windows. Soot aging with the stone that wears it. A cellar beneath ruins blanketed with snow. That wind again. Or are those voices from the past, a gaiety that would be silenced by flames that leave the chill of death, even on a summer’s day? Once the snow melts, there will be a rebirth, the forest green again. And voices. Tourists gazing at those bare stone walls and listening for any sign of life.

stark and desolate
the only sign of rebirth
early budding trees
turkey vultures fly above
stone walls that speak to no one

The “castle” at Ha Ha Tonka was built in the early 1900s and succumbed to fire in 1942. The estate is now a Missouri State Park that features 3700 acres of forest that include caves, sinkholes and bluffs overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. Stone for a water tower, carriage house, and the mansion was quarried on the property. More than 100 yards from the home, the water tower was the only undamaged structure, but it was gutted in the 1970s by a fire started by vandals. (click on images to see larger view in new tab)

With this poet’s choice of listen and silence as prompt words, this is a response to
Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge #126,
“Poet’s Choice of Words.”

27 thoughts on “If Walls Could Talk ~ haibun

    • Thanks. While I was there today, it was mid-20s with a 15mph wind, and the only time it wasn’t annoying was when I was at the lowest point of my hike, sheltered by bluffs in both sides. With the trees, terrain, and ruins, there’s so much for the wind to interact with that it got me wondering.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great perspective, mixing remains that will never revive with season re-emerging.
    Intriguing – something about ruins always tugs on my imagination. I like your eyes that listen, and the wind that doesn’t tell stories. If these walls could talk, guessing there would be a vast range of dramas beyond the ha-ha smiling parties the place was known for. How many couples got in over their heads here? How many workers were exhausted by unrelenting expectations? How many companion animals came and went, peacefully or otherwise? A novelist could have a field day with this setting!
    I read the linked account and looked at the map – this could be a detour on a future excursion – hiking possibilities appeal. Any idea if the trails allow electric bikes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jazz. The ruins still have a grand character about them, so it makes me wonder what the place was like in it’s prime.
      I would say that bikes are not allowed. The main, “easy” trail that goes around the main chasm descends 200 feet at one point, facilitated with stairs at scattered points as it descends to a spring that comes out of the bluff to form a stream more then 50 feet across. That stream now leads into The Lake of the Ozarks, which looks like a Chinese dragon on maps as the valleys above the dam filled in.
      The other trails that are more or less on the upper levels of the bluffs can be steep at times as they climb up and down and have stone steps at points. It may sound strenuous, but it can be a relaxing hike at the right place, regardless, with some great views.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The old mansion house where I received my nurse training was similarly gutted and burned down by vandals after the hospital of which it was the hub had closed. The only remaining building is what was once the “recreation centre”. Everything else has been razed and rebuilt as a housing estate.

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  3. I was watching one of the history exploration shows… right in the middle of the town archaeologists had dug up a ‘Viking trade center’ or ‘mall’ of sorts. While the host Josh Gates what there they found a mold form for silver or gold ingots but on the reverse side was a mold for a Norse hatchet. If walls could talk – indeed.

    There is a little local park here with a home that the caretaker of the park and his family once lived in. – Now it is an education center. Makes me want to know what the closed off rooms look like.

    The wind is even more powerful when we imagine words in it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Where I live, there are many homes cited or condemned by the city. Some are quite old, with no repairs by absentee landlords. One woman has dozens of homes and is often cited, with minor repairs done just prior to auction or demolition. I’m sure those walls have some interesting stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We had a similar situation with a thankless landlord in our local city. History abounds.

        A temporary green space was put in one of the areas. It would be nice if it stayed… but who knows. I think the city owns that parcel now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Colleen’s 2019 #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge Recap No. 126, Poet’s Choice of Words – The Faery Whisperer

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