"While You Were Out of Town"
I left the man with the steam cleaner all alone in the house and watched from my shack as he poured bucket by bucket the gray brackish water that had rinsed our comings and goings from the carpet. That morning I had moved
all the small items—hassock, coffee table, magazine rack,
and more—to the hardwood and tile to make way
for his work. Also the two end tables, the floor lamp—
everything one man could lift by himself,
including the dog's toys and the window shade ropes.
And I would have noticed, had it been on the floor,
your black lacy bra, hanging by a strap
from a dresser handle, but I'm sorry, there it was,
after he left, still hanging, though I noticed it hung this time
by the left shoulder instead of the right,
as though it had fallen as he cleaned the alley
next to your side of the bed, that trouble spot
where the dog sleeps. Yes, that's it, I'm sure,
it had fallen, and he, in one professional motion,
had put it back, as I had put it back
just the night before, having noted
for whatever reason one might note such a thing—
even before I held it to my lips
and took in the rich, cool scent of your absence—
which seemingly negligent strap it dangled by.
Robert Wrigley's books include Earthly Meditations: New & Selected Poems, Lives of the Animals, Reign of Snakes, and the forthcoming Beautiful Country. He teaches in the graduate writing program at the University of Idaho.
For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click spacerhereyeshyperlinkPoetry SubmissionsSlate reads new poems from Oct. 1 to April 30. Manuscripts sent between May 1 and Sept. 30 will not be considered.To submit poems: Send, as a single attached document, up to three poems of no more than 50 lines each to email@example.com. Use the poet's name for the subject line of the e-mail and for the title of the attachment. We prefer Word documents (.doc or .docx) to PDFs.Please include a brief, professional cover letter, including publication history, in the body of your email. Please limit submissions to one per poet per annual reading period. Simultaneous submissions are OK. Slate no longer accepts poetry submissions by mail. The email address firstname.lastname@example.org is for poetry submissions only (or to notify editors of acceptance elsewhere of a poem under consideration at Slate). Other inquiries, etc., will not be addressed.10000false220061444537PMWednesdayJanJanuary161/4/2006 9:45:37 PM63271989937000000020061444537PMWednesdayJanJanuary161/4/2006 9:45:37 PM632719899370000000.Clickhere to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site.