Note: Dwellings have been on my mind. We recently bought a house in the Berkshires, over 1300 miles from Minnesota, where we have lived for the past 34 years. We have accepted an offer on our house there, so buying and selling, loans and inspections. I grew up in apartments in New York City, where the proximity of neighbors forced my parents to suppress my bumptious activities, lest the dreaded broom handle pound on the ceiling. So here are three poems about apartments, real estate, and houses in winter.
“You are only for strong nerves!” my mother used to yell,
Nur für starker Nerven!
I must have been a whirlwind in that small
the neighbors a hostile force
encamped on the high ground.
My father called the Russian guy upstairs
“The Vulgar Boatman” and they each
averted their eyes if they passed in the hall.
Slowly I learned to be quiet,
to sail out on the winding river in my mind
letting the wind carry me all day
into deep woods, where singers lived unseen
among leaves, their hymns like smoke branding the sky.
The Realtor’s Song
Every house is different. Some lie in ruins,
others lean against a blue sky, painted
to resemble birds, or moths or winged souls.
Some are made of smoke and ash, others of mist
or flame. I’ve seen a house that floated
above a pool, and so became on certain days
two mirrored houses, and one with stone steps
that led to a shadow world. Some are hostels
with many beds; others, fortresses with window bars.
Some have dragged on the market for a long time.
I prefer ghost houses, where dust whispers
to wind, where every room has a hundred doors.
I like to cross over, step on bare floors and hear
scratching at windows and walls, maybe
a branch from an oak that needs to come down
before winter storms send it crashing. Or possibly
another voice, one that resembles mine, one
that lost its name in the winding paths where rivers flow.
First Day of Winter
On this day, the first
of winter, the neighbors
have climbed to their roof.
Through my study
window, I can see them
waving beneath skeletal trees,
their palms moving
in playful circles,
as if they were marching
in a festive parade.
On the street below,
gather in gently falling snow.
Their faces blur and change
with the shifting light.
Dogs scamper through drifts,
and in the distance the sound of cars
as they sweep along the river road.
Soon it will be dark,
and the neighbors will descend.
All night the river flows south in its icy bed.
© 2018 Steve Klepetar
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