I’m burning and the fern hanging above the piano might fall. At least twenty feet.
I’m not moved by the fern, but by the sound it would make. I wouldn’t be sitting
under the piano when it fell. I would be on the balcony, tucked against the knee wall.
The fern falls. And I receive sound. I don’t imagine the pieces of the piano. I only
imagine sound. Folding in on itself, I found another corner yesterday and a closet I
forgot in a hallway. Inside a quilt and a wine press. I could write just about quilt
and wine press. The cheap moonlight of yellow pine floors. Or how I built myself within
the confines of the house. One finger longer, crooked, grows past the island. It brushes
the garage door, I am not brushing up against any part of the house. I built myself to
crawl through the knee walls for trash bags of paperwork. This first world. I’m
claustrophilic and the walls are warm. I don’t smell it, the way a leather jacket stops
feeling like thick water. The real beginnings of images are heads without necks. Neck,
a sign of developmental growth. Hands made of circles and sticks. The center of the
house is under the stairs. It is the purest of place, housing people only in passing. To grab
their keys, to walk between rooms. To catch a cat. The home/house/home is primitive or
primal. Provincial. All the P words meaning romantic, lustful. I would rather watch
the horizon than get to know it. I would rather have a wicker vanity than horizon.
I read with a mouth full of spit, a house of mouth with high windows. If you squeeze
my side on the way to the bar I might spit up some clay and Minwax. Of course nest
and net. Of course neck and the smell of warm wet skin. This is not an I of arms.
And I’ll go on about intimacy because of human cores, damp and mealy. I look around
this room at the things I paid for. I am interested in what the world is made of. Grass.
Hyacinths. I am interested in what this world is made of. Creek stone and smoke. I am
interested. Choir. Here, choir. Holding my grandmother’s pitcher is like the hollow
of someone else’s sticky collarbone. And of course it is not. Not net. Place foregrounds
self. And this is what is not. Not the inside of a circular clothes rack. Not resonance.
Utter: a verb meaning to keep in repetition, to loop. I utter “pitcher.” Not even pitcher.
The pitcher is pool. I was of course never myself. The most of myself is contained
within the house. In the house and its motionlessness. Lack of time. Where we can stare
until light becomes blurry, then nothing, motionless. Wrinkling, shrinking our bodies.
Tossed. I’ve we’d the house and we’d this autobiography. The boundary between I
and you, reader. But I am a young poet. And only in the home can the palatial ego glide
unquestioned. Sure by hooks in the walls. Books of poetry peck, bud vases peck.
In the china cabinet we live simultaneously. Little talking happens. Not everyone knows
each other: the spoon from Lake Placid, a gift; the serving platter inherited from “the
two maidens,” Dutch spinsters who paid my father to cut their grass. They cannot talk eye
color. They talk days, cadmium. The presence of the past and the fact that it is over:
the connotation of the word “days.” I considered myself translator. Eliot said I don’t have
complete meaning alone. I’ve been talking at the dead and handling their wallets.
Who has the poet read? I don’t care to admit the drawers I haven’t read. The archive
of orange pill bottles and negatives. All at once the filing cabinet is gone. Its absence
palpable. I rub my feet in the flattened carpet, now breathing. Great Uncle Jacob sold
his part of the family farm, gambled it away on horses. On my left hip, a mole, same as
my mother. My ring fingers like my grandfather’s. We throw the facts at guests entering
the mudroom, Impression: hands, experience: hands. The house raised by newlyweds,
a single air conditioner, card table, episodes of M*A*S*H. I do not look callused.
The home is for screaming or no emotion. To forget there exists another world outside
of motionlessness and dry sheets. And other people. Only the self, contained, innocent,
free. Framed in the mudroom. A chair gives a room new intention. A couch implies
conversation. A chair paired with a couch, party. A chair alone, reading. Two chairs
(one a curved wood rocking chair, the other wicker) crossed legs. Young poet,
and the rocking chair is raised to the level of mantle, toy horse, and fireplace poker.
I repainted the entrance to the sunroom. In winter it will bring out shades of snow. The
house does not improve, it is only added to. “House” implies shell, object. “Home” state
of being. A canon of what happened: children and fire. We keep their juice glasses
and silverware. Things which touched their mouths. I’m aware of past in present, though
my great grandmother will not be aware of how past she remains. I try to assume myself
past. I already happened and times are parallel. Who has my prom dress? Drop waist,
lavender? “He has taken all the galaxies/into his face,” writes Rilke. Ownership eats.
Accumulates pottery. I flatter myself into thinking I yearn for a floor lamp, when
I probably just need the light to better pluck my eyebrows. I will eat the chopping block
greased with orchid heads, the stainless steel shot glass and its yoke-colored case (and
from me). The dwarf conifers, pocket watch, and copper slotted spoon (and from me).
The tile floor (and from me). To prepare for nursing care, we divide my grandmother’s
things. Her apartment, like magic scarves. What doesn’t fit in a single room? Everything.
And we take away her mirror, her bureau, her brush. I am not one, but I can eat.