Our Front Hall

Our Front Hall

Our front hall had a very tall grandfather clock at the foot of the stairs keeping watch over the household. No one could wind it but my father and the clock defined the nights in regular chimes reaching everyone’s ears in everyone’s bedroom.There was a front hall table made of lustrous mahogany where mail and packages were placed daily.The legs of the table looked like a young girl with four legs curtseying all at once. I know because I spent a lot of time under there waiting for God knows what. My favorite part however In this wonderful area of our house was the front hall closet which no one could put anything in except for my father. It was his personal closet for his overcoat and his hats and his umbrellas and his galoshes. I don’t remember hearing we weren’t supposed to go in the closet so I went in the closet quite a bit. There was a shelf the hats were on that had a thumbtacked piece of decorative ribbon that was ruched: something I had never seen before. I took some delight in pulling a piece of it off and seeing what it felt like. My father had four or five coats in there and most of the coats were some range of the color gray. There were cashmere coats, and wool coats, and cotton coats, and canvas coats. The coats had a big life and seemed to go out a lot. Sometimes alone, and sometimes in pairs the coats went out in the world: across oceans and in airplanes, office buildings, and houses not ours, down inside boats, outside on sidewalks. They always came back home slightly different than when they had left. I knew this because when I went in the closet I would stand up inside each coat starting with my head going into the bottom because they were buttoned up, you see, and I would shimmy myself up to usually just the lowest button because my father was very tall and I was still short. I would stand there and breathe in the outside world imagining where he had been and who he had seen and the smell of old Spice would anesthetize me against the real world. In the closet I created whatever I wanted sometimes for hours. No one ever looked for me. I stood so still inside a coat I became a part of its life.

In the Desert You Can’t Remember Your Pain

 

In the December desert near the crepuscular 

hour many people experience subtle, ocular

change. Sometimes these changes are

permanent. Saguaros (Te 

quiero) can begin to move

and appear to challenge with their arms

the delicate prickly pear while the Feather

cactus plays, “catch a falling Star“. It is, however,

the Christmas cactus that interests me: 

blooming blood red pink like a baby‘s lips exactly at the

time they say we had a virgin birth.

Who will tell it to bloom now that we have lost faith:

a world divided, no party lines, no Avon lady, no 

agreement  not to kill each other?

 

 

 

The Neighbor

The Neighbor

Each morning the dogs walk her down Chestnut Street.

Past Taylor’s house, empty lot, red mower for sale($95.00) ,

Mrs. Alonzo’s dead flower bed, and she’s got makeup on and

clothes that are good because it’s time to wear the good clothes.

There’s Bob with the two white poodles prancing and Bob prancing

because he can when he’s out of the house.

She always stops at the empty lot, stares at the two abandoned rattan

chairs and wants to slip into one, take a breath from dancing all night,

sip the last of her champagne.

She still hears music.

Remembering Isadora Duncan

I asked for a womb with

a view.

Just a small picture window

to see what was coming.

Even then I wanted

to be prepared.

I think about routes before

I take them,

Conversations

before I have them

and life before I

live it.

Even the garden

Is not spared from prediction

As all I do is prune and refuse

to replant.

They think I dance for myself

But all I do is planned.