the house


arranging it is far easier 
than living it.      the books
stand ready on the shelves. 

classifications by time or place 
come naturally to me.      alone 
finding the book important is difficult. 

i’ve started to live here many mornings
opening my eyes vowing this morning
i will really begin.      objects intrude themselves: 

floors need sweeping and one carton 
unopened    is hidden in a closet. 


the telescope is still
disassembled         (at night
the skies are clear).

mirrors and lenses
lie in velvet lined cases.
i am afraid to use them. 


one of my cats was badly
clawed    i could see layers
of muscle and fat.    my neighbor 
warns there are foxes here.

i do not tell my neighbor 
his cats look wild.    i do not
know my neighbor's name. 


there are fears to which 
i do not admit.       there are fears
which i refuse to name.        alone

in the dark        i am 
afraid of others     but also
of the clean smell

of the refrigerator;
the freshness of chlorine
draws me.       i walk quickly
towards the bedroom.


this morning        i cleaned 
the yard.   i saw a face
from the city     in the trees.

the face was a mask
and i pulled it off
but there was nothing.


patterns in rock originated from
pressure.    the veins were once separate
stones       pushed together     stamped into 
other hard flesh.       they merged 
and became ornamental. 

                                        the colors
blend surprisingly well.     rings
match shapes and textures.    unwilling
inanimate       they played their roles
the iceberg scraping off layers         till
the desired smoothness was achieved. 


i do not understand my place
in it.    it seems to have a life
of its own       made by others
simply on loan      for a year.

they ask me:   how is 
your book?     and i give accurate
gas meter readings     wondering
where i will be next year. 

the world here is fluid
the beaches undefined.    there are rocks
whose function         i do not know.

"the house" from Her Birth and Later Years: New and Collected Poems, 1971-2021 © 2022 by Irena Klepfisz. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission.