“The House in the Heart” is a free-verse poem with lines and stanzas of irregular length. The poem is written in the first person, with no particular distinction being made between the author and the one speaking; thus it takes on a confessional or private tone. The opening statement presents the problem of the poem—how to get through the day (and life) when one feels spiritually and emotionally empty. One does not know the specific occasion for this feeling of emptiness. It seems to exist almost like a form of weather, a depression that moves in like the “dark rain” outside. The speaker makes chamomile tea and watches the “little flowers” as they float in hot water. The chamomile flowers are desiccated and dead, inanimate, something the water uses. She says, “the water/ paint[s] itself yellow,” while the flowers merely “float and bob”—a projection of her own feelings.
The speaker seems detached from life as the cars outside go “somewhere,” but she does not venture to guess where. She feels no connection with them. Looking for some way to escape her depression, she makes the odd statement, “This is my favorite story,” then talks about a “man with a secret jungle growing/ in his brain” who “says chocolate/ can make him happy.” At this point, it is not clear whether her “favorite story” refers back to the cars swishing past or ahead to the man with the jungle in his brain. One is curious as to why either should be a “favorite story,” especially since there is no real feeling of enjoyment here; perhaps she is simply trying to cheer herself up as one would distract and cheer a child by telling a story. Whatever the “favorite story” is, the reader does not get to hear it...
(The entire section is 708 words.)