To be a window is easier than to be a door. You do
not have to suffer daily fists and the brass conk
of canes, you do not have to ease open
to every opportunity with its get-rich dreams.
No mail man forces a dog to snarl at your knob,
no mother keeps yelling that you should be open
or shut depending on the whims of the weather,
and the cat sits on your sill without begging out or in.
If she twitches at the squirrel, no matter. On All Hallow’s
you do not grow weary on your hinges,
and in summer you’re screened. No one scolds
you for letting in the flies. You are merely there,
that paradoxical clarity that delineates worlds, blameless
and irresponsible until the boy with his stone.
The Chair and the Bed
The chair was straight-backed and righteous, a ladder
to heaven running up his spine, he knew where he was
going even though a telephone book was sometimes placed
on his painted seat and a child lifted onto him for a holiday
meal, but that didn’t last longer than a heel mark on his rung,
the child was gone before the gravy, and the chair was back
to where he had been in the bedroom, white and empty.
The bed was another matter, rumpled
but righteous in her own way, whispering to her sheets
that the chair worried too much about saliva and salvation,
all that grumbling because the wife had missed a banana smear
on his leg, hey, life was messy, didn’t she know every night
the old roll and flop, slaver and snore? Why even when
the man and the wife were sleeping, the bed could taste
the phlegm and stain and then there was that schnauzer
who took a corner of the spread and pulled it onto the floor
to stink it up. What was the big deal?
Of course, the chair knew too.
Every night he sat and watched, holding himself as rigid as he could.
The Cuff and the Sleeve
They learned to live with each other
as couples do, ironing out differences, but
the cuff was often angry with the sleeve,
especially when it was hot and the sleeve
rolled the cuff into himself. I wish you
wouldn’t do that, she kept saying to him,
when you hold me this tight I can hardly
breathe–and your sweat, it’s toxic.
The sleeve chided her, Darling, why do I
have I to take the heat? Can’t you give
a little. Stop thinking of yourself.
The cuff tried, but she couldn’t help hoping
for cooler days when the sleeve was less
amorous and was willing to let
the smoothest bit of her show.
Lois Marie Harrod’s chapbook Furniture is forthcoming from Grayson Press. Her Firmament was published by Finishing Line Press in 2007 and her Put Your Sorry Side Out, by Concrete Wolf in 2005. She won a 2003 poetry fellowship, her third, from the New Jersey Council on the Arts. Her sixth book of poetry Spelling the World Backward (2000) was published by Palanquin Press, University of South Carolina Aiken, which also published her chapbook This Is a Story You Already Know (l999) and her book Part of the Deeper Sea (l997). Over 300 of her poems have appeared in journals including American Poetry Review, Blueline, The MacGuffin, Salt, The Literary Review, Zone3. Her earlier publications include the books Every Twinge a Verdict (Belle Mead Press, l987), Crazy Alice (Belle Mead Press, l991) and a chapbook Green Snake Riding (New Spirit Press, l994).