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Domestic Architecture


ISSUE:  Winter 1990
There is no reason to be unhappy. Purplish flowers
star the twigs out your window; it has a stately frame,
eight small panes in procession above the great one,
brown mullions like musical bars. And if the
 neighborhood’s
not what you asked for, still. . . . Such things have woken
 you
at almost every age; what is there more?
But your life was unarraigned then, protected by others,
and the day moved inside that, in its small panes.
And if what protected also imprisoned, made a sameness?
Now the first hope is gone, you’d say you did it
for honesty: to say what you meant about longing,
not half-adapt to one you were still half-failing,
and so be taller; so, perhaps, break open
what was knotted inside. . . . Now, your lover brings
 strangeness
like many jewels on the dresser top overnight.
You are trying to build each other a shelter in the larger
spaces of your hearts. You don’t feel safe for an hour.
There are so many gaps that can open. When she sees
the cracks in the ceiling and not the stately window;
when you see the ranch-house blankrtess and not the elm
she turns to, waking, the wind has a chance to start
 blowing
that says birth to death is a single plain; there was never
a house on it, not a tree, not a pluckable purple flower.

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