I stand in the open house

— Casey FitzSimons

I stand in the open house, its tiny rooms
looking onto prairie through the open door,
its rectangle of brown and gold and blue,
through windows that the outdoors pushes through.
Thin eyelet curtains, pressed in hanging, ruffle
in the breeze, the same breeze the grain out there resists.

Worn unvarnished wooden floor, the chair legs
straight down onto it, though still, not scraping.
The long grooves down the stiles that hold the back,
down the chair legs’ grain, across the spindles,
threatening to split it all to kindling;
those are years dried out of the once-tree, soft
old years susceptible to arid breeze, hollowed now
of any nectar of memory, empty of all
but parchment strands of cellulose, empty
of increments of passing time.

Only the hard years color the wood, hold
its substance and structure, remain to signify
chair or table. Only their density conveys
the knocking when the hand tilts and drags it,
moves the tacit archive of events, bridging
empty ridges of loss across the floor.

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