"House"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 2 2006 6:44 AM

"House"

Click here to listen to Don Bogen read this poem.

Schmidt made me Like others each in turn as the street grew south I was a pit in clay A wall of cinderblock holding out the damp My parts began diverging, my purposes cleared I was tar and poured cement I was a skeleton of two-by-fours, the wind between my ribs

Floorboards gave me layers
Men stood on them, smoking cigarettes
Boys climbed down ladders to explore my partitions
I was a concert of hammering, band saws whined at my perimeters
My horizon was a battlefield of trenches and stakes
Schmidt's truck kept bringing my devices
Pipes for fluids, wires to connect me with the world

I was plaster, I was rubber and glass
My joists, my iron ligaments grew invisible
I took on angles, gable and dormer and plumb back door
I blocked the wind, I was rooms each linked to another
Ducts and vents gave me unity
Women came, their hands on my walls
I was whitewash and would be paint and would wear cloth

Around me my brothers stood up in the field
Only the oldest trees were taller
Fresh asphalt welcomed Schmidt's truck, marked my border
Sidewalk traveled beside it
I support habitation, my green robe is growing
My arms extend to every corner
At my heart new sheet metal sings in the heat

Don Bogen is the author of four books of poetry, most recently An Algebra. He is the Nathaniel Ropes Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati.

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