I’m back home in Minnesota, living in my own house after a five-month sojourn in Western Australia. It was a great experience, as much for the people as for the place, with its rugged coastline and golden light. Our house now seems both familiar and strange, like when you wake from a richly detailed dream. Here are three recent poems, more or less about houses.
The House by the River
I promised I would sit by the water
and wait for your call. I promised to see
your face shining in the trees. I swore
I would tend you in the dark and find
your hand as it filled with shadows
and smoke. That was long ago
when you lived in the house where
the river ran below steep banks, and
geese waddled on shore as they rested
in summer heat. I kept my promise
in the patterns of your words. I waited
in sun and rain, perched on the same
gray rock until my blood hardened
and my legs took root. My tongue
writhed in my mouth, hissing secrets
of underground: its smells, its tunnels
with their endless shapes, its cool water,
its weight of earth, and all its changeless calm.
The House that Floated Above the Waves
The land was full of ghosts.
You could feel them, a cold stream
against your cheek, something
fingering your neck. They sang
in the night, loud enough
to interrupt sleep, those fingers
beckoning, candles flickering in the wind.
One day, an ordinary house floated up
and out over the waves.
Neighbors came to help, tied drag
lines to keep it from sailing far away.
They couldn’t pull it back to earth,
so it floated, the whole family stuck inside.
When hunger forced them to adapt, they grew
wings, ornate protrusions
with which they climbed the stars.
Sometimes, as they passed from school
or work, they would land and commune
with ghosts, who stroked their hair
and touched their wings, but gently,
with a reverence only the dead could command.
Sunlight leaks through lemon leaves,
but I’m not ready to go. My house
is up on wheels, and despite my objections,
we’re heading west where the forecast
warns of gathering clouds.
The kitchen rattles as we go,
pots and pans, spice jars clinking, cups
and plates clashing in the cupboards where
our maps are stored.
Before we leave the yard, sorrowful trees
wave their goodbyes. Nothing will smoke
in the barbecue, or dance on the line to dry.
Now that it’s lunchtime, we’ll miss the syrup
and those voices caught up in some windy debate
about the best ways, in this time of loss and overflowing
light, to orient ourselves toward the invisible stars.
© 2017 Steve Klepetar
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF