"The Home"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 29 2012 5:50 AM

"The Home"


Photograph by John Thackray.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Kathryn Levy read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

They’ve healed me to pieces.

Paul Celan

They’ve locked me in a closet
in a three story home—with only
Mama inside, still screaming her stories:
You’re the Bad Seed, you
need to be sorry.
They’ve given me tasks
to pretend I am sorry: I eat my breakfast,
I pick at the scabs that erupt in my face, I dig
holes in the closet to bury the latest
dolls who’ve come back—Mary, Melinda,
Chatty Cathy. They’ve opened the closet
and let me be free—for three whole hours—
walking on a beach, making
plans for tomorrow.—Then
shoved me back in. They play games,
they have reasons. Or claim they have reasons.
They’ve invented a war in a nightmare country:
Bang bang
cry the boys as the dolls
explode in the street. Boom boom
goes my head as I curl up for sleep.
They knit the flags, they pronounce the deadlines:
September 15th, a party for freedom.

They give out their medals as the dazed
soldiers make speeches: I am
almost like new, I love my steel eyes.

They say and they say: This is your home, what
else could it be?
They have stolen my words but keep
pumping in air, thousands of hours of seemingly
limitless air. But it’s beautiful beautiful. They keep
moving my lips with two wood sticks: What’s
the meaning of this?—
It’s just
a simulation. (They still prop me up at
the entrance to the home.) And the real life happens
next week.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.

Kathryn Levy is the author of the poetry collection Losing the Moon. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in various journals including The Seattle Review, Provincetown Arts, The Southampton Review, and The Manhattan Poetry Review. She lives in Sag Harbor, N.Y.



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