—Charles Burchfield, 1930
Oil on composition board, 34″ x 37″ framed
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York


Light spills from the shop windows
onto the snow-covered sidewalk,
the unplowed road, a few car tracks.
One lone couple leans in
to look at the bright empty shelves, or
something we can’t see yet.

The buildings’ upper-story windows
are blank, as if no one lived there.
One parked car. A man stands waiting
by the curb for a ride that’s late.
He must have a distance to go—
any place in town he could walk.

In the distance, a multi-story cross
is raised into the sky—
the names of all the sons who went to war
and didn’t come back must be chiseled
on the other side. In the sky, wave after wave
of dark clouds roll by.



The Only Home We Know is Robin Chapman’s tenth book of poems, honorably mentioned for the Edna Meudt Poetry Award. She is recipient of Appalachia’s 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Hudson Review, and Poetry East.

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