Judy Kronenfeld: "Her Vacated House"




The mirrors are sheeted.

The chairs and couches

lose their shapes under heavy

covers. Dust congregates

in corners. She is silent

and expressionless

as a dressmaker’s model.


But I need little—a door

for entry, a window, however

smeared, for light. I sit

on the draped cushions. Motes swirl

and eddy in wan shafts

of sun warming the rooms

that seem to stir. I pin

remnants, vestiges,

traces to her frame.

A long time, now,

I have been

both ventriloquist

and dummy.


I am accustomed

to the squares of my afternoons,

the tableau vivant

at their centers. When they tell me

the house is death’s

eminent domain,

I shut my ears.

Windows shine

and windows darken; curtains fill

with light, then flatten. The glow

and shadows on her face

make me dream

she’s home.



Judy Kronenfeld is the author of three full-length collections of poetry. Her most recent volume is Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012). Her previous collection is Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths (winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize), now available in a second edition from Antrim House (2012). Her poems, as well as the occasional short story, personal essay and review have appeared in many print and online journals including Adanna, Calyx, Cimarron Review, American Poetry Journal, Fox Chase Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, Hiram Poetry Review, Passager, Poetry International,  Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, Women’s Review of Books, Pedestal, Under the Sun, and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, as well as in anthologies or text books, including Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (Greenhouse Review Press/Alcatraz Editions, 2008), Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State University Press, 2009), and Love over 60: An Anthology of Women's Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010).  She is Lecturer Emerita, Dept. of Creative Writing, University of California, Riverside.