THINGS IN THIS MIRROR
ARE CLOSER THAN THEY SEEM
I knew she wasn't home
but the back door wasn't locked
and I called hello, just in case.
The chairs said, "No one's here.
Come in. See how we manage
the light when no one's about."
I stood in the kitchen,
listened for the crunch of stones
under tires. Aluminum siding clicked
as it stretched in the afternoon sun
and from somewhere the hum of a mower
exhausted itself on the walls.
Dust fell on tables and blinds
like party-talk when no one's
listening. In the living room, sun-
light slanted through the windowpane,
turning to a salver the dazzled sill,
and behind the shade of pair of bottle-flies
pitched the violence of wings
against the heat.
On the wall hung
a print of something by Vermeer:
an old man sitting by a fireplace
watching the patterns his fingers make
as firelight turns in his hands.
Who can say when a painting,
heavy in its frame, begins to tilt
or what vibration from the street
throws off the toe and camber
of the wall, requiring our touch
to return to kilter the imagined world?
In this part of someone's life
that happens without her knowing it,
I thought about a dream I used to have:
I'm kneeling next to a woman's bed,
listening to her breathe,
and on the bedside table
the cool nacre of calla-lilies
melting, dripping to the wine-red rug.
In that real bedroom, though,
a nightgown hanging against the door
swung to my touch like a ghost
and in the dusk above the vanity I saw
someone about to run out
into the street, giving myself away.