When We Lived There

By Susan L. Lin

The house

we grew up in was filled

with love and laughter.


It was filled

with other things,



The first time I saw the photos online,

two decades later, I no longer

recognized the place.

Couldn’t reconcile those images

with my memories of our previous life.


Rooms stood empty

like hollowed-out shoebox dioramas,

childhood curtains and bathroom tile replaced

and unfathomable: the building a burn victim

after reconstructive surgery.


We both took one look

and said, “If only it had looked like that

when we lived there.”


A hoarder never quits

until the FOR SALE sign is

staked on the front lawn.


A hoarder’s daughters never quit

second-guessing the fine line

between trash and treasure,

between that which can be left behind

and that which should be cherished

for the rest of time.