Today's poem is by Jett McAlister


To begin with, the house by the water. Which would be
on the coast, maybe up north, if I'd known enough

to put it there. Instead, consider a sash of fog
resting over what pale green water's left over—

two bands, think of it, exceeding the frame, wrapped
who knows how far to the east. Hills rising, no, sitting

like old stories across. Bread loaves, the gentle mounds,
and all the rooms filled with motes and beams. Wooden beams,

conspiratorial motes. What we once would have called
rooms waiting. The river under there somewhere, under

that. The lapping, the river's tongues. Beneath that,
behind it. To begin with, this house built on a hill

above the water, so that you enter upstairs, and there,
beside the door, the kitchen. And next to the telephone,

standing there, someone's spilled fennel seeds
or the last of the coriander. Consider, then, the rooms

beneath, bay windows facing the water, wine stains
on the carpet, coffee rings on the table by the window,

the pieces of what's left behind dancing in the air,
the wooden beams, gilded now, room waiting—

we demand reason for so much (waiting how long, or
for whom, or why has it turned out this way). The table

has no chairs around it, but imagine it differently: four,
and set for dinner. Room waiting for us to fill it. We say this

as if to make it bearable. Across the hall—and could we see
across a thing, behind it?—the other waiting, the older kind,

that counting down from the unknown numbers. And still,
outside, who can tell? A hill, some trees, a river, other houses,

an ocean if I'd known to put it there, a rocky beach with a sun
out in the distance, or birds, or a chair turned over into the water.

Copyright © 2007 Jett McAlister All rights reserved
from Center
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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