Fevered cabin, listening
to the mechanized bell
from the church on the corner
and movie sounds from downstairs,
volcanic as ash I wonder
how it’s going for you, where you are.
Whether to put together a recording for you
that’s easy to listen to,
that’s full of strings. It’s hard
to plan when the plan has been to stay
at home all day, to make a clearing
among things, whatever it was settlers did
other than suffer, other than hit,
other than lose children, gain ground,
look at the land. The hard-won homesteading
was about a collection of pots and pans,
chairs and pictures, beds and linen,
what I have, what you do too, where you are.
Taking inventory, going from shelf to shelf,
acknowledging that chair’s still
where it was pushed out of the way
for guests from weeks past, the curtain down
when the spring fell out of the bar that held it,
things you wouldn’t like to stand for, things
in an array of one kind, anyway.
It doesn’t breathe in here, though the windows
emit drafts even when shut against the cold.
The house doesn’t breathe
so much as it waits for you to do
whatever else you’re going to do to it.
I imagine your house must be cleaner, like a mother’s,
our own, and you with the flu, lying down.
It’s too bad I’m not a pilot,
or a genius of doorways.
I realign books, push things under other things,
wipe things down, let the dust stay
under the row of small presents on the sill.
Carved elephant, brass bell, dried pomegranate. Geode, chestnut,
music box, bottle. Rock with a seam.
Goat-shaped can opener. Two plastic horses, one that moves,
one that is still but has two riders.