Household Mechanics

He hid in plain sight
his own highest hopes
wearing the red scarf

They had rehearsed it
blue ski parka
clutch of photographs
the formative event of his childhood
taken to the railroad station

He maintained a journal
his real name
safely stashed in Scarsdale
Most of the spoken words
modest wooden houses
well-ordered chimneys
The details of the dancing
in the same pleasant tone
But his first alcoholic beverage
turkey with all the trimmings

Then, there's the sound
your eye right up to the screen
a slight breeze in the back of the house
the difference between spinning records

Sitting on the porch
Violet has her suitcase
in her bouncy way
feeling guilty about the string beans
and at least for now how she breathes
as someone always will
This sense of life relatively safe
the service road everyone secretly knows

And this is not about
her placement as a showgirl
and then to medical school
I can't stand those eyes
whipped up and let down
hundreds of vacant chairs
taking piano lessons

The agonizing storytelling technique
of the pencilmakers themselves
Lots of parked cars in the arms of her own home

I'd change my clothes
Assume the weight of tragedy
that a girl makes whose gown seems the awful truth
The feel of it in these terms
the need to be redeemed in the flesh
kissing each other's rings

From Household Mechanics by Sarah Mangold. Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Mangold. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.