Before the Auction
for Sarah

Out back the fire’s locked & loaded. The mirror glass has exploded
from contact with the heat & snow. & maybe

you need to know I always dreamt of coming back.
Of the black cornfields, flecked with mildewed dead,

roots of what went meaningfully before. That I always meant
to take the dishes & the wedding spoons. But then.

The more reality emerges, the more it thistles over,
mists, loses its surge & urgency.

Last night we drove Speak Lake & the game preserve & past
the A-frame where Anke lived. The grass is high

where we did not stay to cut it down. Dad says yes
he does need seven jars of cumin seed.

He has kept. Sometimes you need. We burn the fur coat
& the brim of a straw hat, sans its bowl. You know,

I pretend there’s no home in home. But I do miss the hymns,
the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss

things. Somewhere, at the heart, this refusal to depart love or dread
from a chipped nesting dove, a coffee mug. All these changes.

Lord, I mean, he wants to take the extra flanges in case
of toilet repair. He wants the box of sand. The bird cage.

All this refuse, love, all this junk in its wake, in its light. Sister, we sing
instead. Those notes in your full voice, rise like embers in the night.



Selling the Farmhouse at Auction

All war, this year, all war. So consider everything dead.
The deer’s huge belly exploded on the road. The aluminum

siding, the six-pack gameday threads, obliterated.
Consider this loneliness a war on globally owned utility.

Consider what you thought was happening to you
was actually happening to your energy, a distraction,

healing yourself even as the roof wept, the furnace choked.
Consider in a war all the dirty air. Smokestacks, furnace grime.

A bare-faced man who’s come to assay the property line.
Imagine your wife left you and took the toaster, too.

Took winter potatoes all talcum crust with purple toes. Imagine
your son-in-law constructing rockets. Your daughters making policy.

Imagine vengeance is mine sayeth the good wheat.
All wars pleading land as an absurd canvas, land which is never

enough, just a language of marriage and accession,
a mattress on which old men fight their only

remaining wars of possession. Well, I didn’t want the land, exactly.
We can’t care for it. We don’t have the beseeching down.

Don’t have time to applaud farm kill, drive reckless four wheelers,
survey bodies lying in sad ditches with brown-eyed witches.

We don’t have rent for our own air mattresses,
our once-horizons, drinking autumn hexenes,

staring down a decaying porch rail. I don’t know what we consider
a war loss, anymore, versus a love loss versus, well,

just a dropped possessive. And this idea, retribution, well
it hangs on the crooked tree frames, on the mildewed tile.

The house may fetch a fair price at auction, but you can never
return. Just a war of two grim loves lacing into one another.

The silver-whiskered boxwood in spring.
The auctioneer says take it or leave it, it is what it is.