V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics



CIRCA 1987


For us the intimacy of each mirror 
and floorboard begins the moment 

we open the door and step into this summerhouse 
we’ve been imagining  like thieves since March.

How easily we drink from cups and sit 
in chairs belonging to strangers, as if

we had driven from yard sale to yard sale 
and chosen everything ourselves, even 

the wallpaper peeling its flags and flowers 
above the painted cast iron beds in every room 

upstairs once part of another couple's idea 
of country life in the seventies. Call them 

friends of friends of my family or yours, 
people who've been apart for years and are glad for us

to stay here awhile and sweep up the place
the children will someday inherit, 

teenagers who must wonder what ever happened 
to the birdhouse beneath the hydrangea blossoms, 

a hornet’s nest on it the color and shape of an 
old volleyball. Without saying it we know we could 

spend the rest of our lives here. We don't mind 
falling  asleep the first night with cat hair on the quilt, 

a bird's wing on the rug, musty starlight sifting in 
through rain-stained curtains. Waking to a yard 

of uncut grass we are knee-deep in our own history 
that has followed us here, or has been waiting a long 

time for us to arrive so we might start 
to rewrite it the way our white-haired neighbor 

across the road mows his lawn every afternoon, 
his wife waiting in her wicker rocker on the porch

with a pitcher of iced tea. From the outside
their life is as bucolic as a watercolor 

of the blue hills in the distance someone tossed
into a drawer where mildew settled in like clouds

scattered perfectly along the horizon,
or a snapshot we plan to go back and take

of some trees growing out of the dirt
left in the bed of a rusty bulletholed pickup 

we found yesterday camouflaged 
on our way to the Neversink for a swim. 

We know, too, without saying it that we have 
come here this summer to be part of a picture

we might have otherwise been left out of:
the one we keep taking of ourselves 

beneath the apple tree in the meadow out back,
where you asked me to marry you this morning

so I'd smile for the camera, 
where the grass is as wild as green hippie hair

I begin singing to you while you comb 
mine out into rays over the pillow,

as if all these years we had been saving 
ourselves for each other, the way this house

seems to have been saving itself for us,
for people who might dream of it as home.

© by Kate Sontag


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