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More poems by Philip LevinePhilip Levine | Print this page.Print | View and Write CommentsComments (1) | Books by Philip LevineBooks by Philip Levine

The House

Philip Levine

This poem has a door, a locked door, 
and curtains drawn against the day, 
but at night the lights come on, one 
in each room, and the neighbors swear 
they hear music and the sound of dancing. 
These days the neighbors will swear 
to anything, but that is not why 
the house is locked up and no one goes 
in or out all day long; that is because 
this is a poem first and a house only 
at night when everyone should be asleep. 
The milkman tries to stop at dawn, 
for he has three frosty white bottles 
to place by the back door, but his horse 
shakes his head back and forth, and so 
he passes on his way. The papers pile 
up on the front porch until the rain 
turns them into gray earth, and they run 
down the stairs and say nothing 
to anyone. Whoever made this house 
had no idea of beauty -- it's all gray -- 
and no idea of what a happy family 
needs on a day in spring when tulips 
shout from their brown beds in the yard. 
Back there the rows are thick with weeds, 
stickers, choke grass, the place has gone 
to soggy mulch, and the tools are hanging 
unused from their hooks in the tool room. 
Think of a marriage taking place at one 
in the afternoon on a Sunday in June 
in the stuffy front room. The dining table 
is set for twenty, and the tall glasses 
filled with red wine, the silver sparkling. 
But no one is going in or out, not even 
a priest in his long white skirt, or a boy 
in pressed shorts, or a plumber with a fat bag.

Added: 25 Feb 2002 | Last Read: 15 Dec 2018 8:16 PM | Viewed: 3839 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/2939/ | Viewed on 15 December 2018.
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