House Empty Speaks a Loud Truth, 2018

for Charmian Kittredge London

1.      House made of breath exhaled from wooden ribs.
2.      Dale Carnegie’s name scribbled on a cream closet door.
3.      A nautilus shell eating a light bulb sheds the softest light.
4.      Calabashes painted grey sway from their ropes whenever the earth shakes. (Someone tried to mute their color).
5.      She designed the house so that it would never burn.
6.      The rock patio has a pyramid-shaped staircase that leads up and over the edge.
7.      Left unattended, I slid every window latch open, shimmied through sliding doors.
8.      You could hear the red-breasted robins singing from the second floor.
9.      The silver painted wallpaper came off on my fingertips.
10.    What they thought was a guest room was actually her office.
11.    When the state cataloged the house, everyone forgot she was a writer.
12.     It never burned.
13.     Bays and oaks move closer to the house. (Hear their leaves whisper?)
14.     Though they'll cover the fountain in the sun-filled dining room, its waters will keep broadcasting to future visitors.

Copyright © 2021 by Iris Jamahl Dunkle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.