Through the transparency
Of bare wall studs
You can see
The burgundy Carpathian rug,
Covered with a snowfall
Of burst stemware,
And a doll slumbering
In the pink insulation
With one eye open.
You see an electric bill, a photograph of a soldier,
A child’s bicycle, a yellow chenille bathrobe,
And a maple coffee table with two legs,
Strewn on the kitchen floor,
Forming a collage of life as it was,
But hopelessly out of order.
The metal roof folds through tree branches
Like perverse origami
And the green carpet is turned back
Like a breaking wave
Carrying flotsam from a sunken ship.
Is taken down to its skeleton;
Is opened like a ribcage,
Exposed to the world.
Clear and pure as a diamond,
The October morning
At age ten,
When I first discerned
A pattern to life and death.
I rose early
And slipped quietly down to the lake.
Grandpa and I laughed together
In that same cove
Floating on inner tubes,
Drinking Budweiser and Hires root beer.
But that morning,
Grandpa was drinking coffee with a realtor
In the small screened porch.
Shone on fallen apples
Wet with dew,
But already a home to worms.
The breath of fall was ripe with the smell
Of smoke from the cabin chimney,
Barely masking the scent of decaying earth,
Damp hay and mushrooms.
Autumn leaves swirled down
From live oaks and maples that were lush
And green only a few weeks before.
My golden retriever, Bo, used to fish
With me and chase the Frisbee.
Ten years before, I had picked him
From a tangle of puppies
Because of his energy and gentle nature.
When he saw me he would always
run to my side and lick my hand.
But that morning Bo preferred
laying in the warmth of the wood stove.
And I noticed for the first time,
that his only greeting
was the rhythmic thumping of his tail
on the kitchen floor.