by Emily Leithauser

                        for Simon and Kathleen

Our house was a seabed of alien vines
reaching to touch the windowsills.
We scraped the dry, green paper off
the glass with flat blades, then sat back,

beer bottle labels curling up
with sun, to stare at the new August
coming through three years ago,
all murky and bubbling and bent.

Now, the only piece of furniture
that’s followed me to every place—
my grandmother Nina’s yellow desk—
looks out from that row of windows

as if wondering what we’ll ever do
with that white porcelain sink, as large
as a baptismal font, you hauled
from your childhood home into this place.

It reminds us of your mother, who,
at night, would invite me up to talk,
pour me something gold to drink.
How she would have loved this sunlit room;

the window clasps, small enough
for dolls to unfasten, and the shaky ceiling
fan, old enough for a saloon.

Finalist, the Poetry International Prize 2022

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