Ode to Abandoned Houses
Ramshackle houses grace fields and roadways.
Floorboards warp, turn graywood, split
and pucker. Rusty nails climb from their holes
like eighty-year locusts rising into daylight.
Daylight, yes, sunbeams through roof-holes, light
creeping up splintered stairs like an absent father
seeking his children. Daylight presses at crevices,
daylight lonely in cluttered corners. Along roofbeams
and on torn-paper walls, daubers have plastered
dried-mud cathedral pipes. Their music is silence
that stretches across the harvests and barnlands.
Its body is a scatter of broken plates, fallen
wallboards, curtain rods, and mouse bones. Bricks
sleep in the driveway, swallows nest under
kitchen cabinets. Windows are eyes, mirrors
are eyes: shattered, tarnished, fragmented, staring
night and day. The abandoned house hears the grass
calling it, hears stones calling, hears wind telling it
to fall, fall, buckle and fall, slide its cupboards
and pine boards into earth, let glass panes become
simple stones, pull time over it like a dirty quilt.
Poem, Starring a Possum
Consider the opossum. She dreams of walking
through sky, soft clouds brushing her flanks
like green grass or corn stubble. To her, sky
never seems out of reach: it’s a blue meadow
just beyond the horizon’s fence line. The opossum
sleeps twenty hours a day, dreams five hours
per night. That’s more dream than waking. Sleep
is her kingdom, her dreamlife more real than worms
and kernels. When we flip on the porch light, bang
pans and squawk, shoo her from bird seed, from
the garage, we must seem like nightmares.
Tonight, my eyes quivering, grayfur possum
shuffles across my own dream, pink snout poking
at stars, nosing them around like brightlight grubs,
pushing Mirach and Alpha Andromedae across
October sky’s black lawn. She is drawing
a self-portrait, mimicking her own curved tail
with a slender train of prehensile starlight.
Two-wombed white beast, she’ll live no more
than a year or two, then huddle down in soft grass
to dream her longest dream until moonlight
nestles between her ribs like a heartbeat.
Three crows savor
a possum splayed dead
alongside Crane Hill Road.
Peck and look, peck
and look. Not far off
a metal pail rusts in a corner
of Mitchell Krebb’s barn.
The crows graze in the stubble
of a wind-wrought field.
Their eyes shine
like glint-rock, the sheen
of oil on water. There’s ice
on the river. Nobody
comes this way anymore.
Header photo of abandoned house by Skitterphoto, courtesy Pixabay.