In the dream
I painted the kitchen chalk boring white
and in the dinky town where I lived, my sister lived
near enough to give me advice. She said if I were planning
to sledgehammer an arch between the kitchen and the dining room
I should do it now while I was still young.
My brother was there, venturing no opinion, smiling into the distance.
I know what he thinks. He thinks my house is too small to worry about.
Once, last year at the lake, when we were outside drinking Black Russians
and listening to a Johnny Cash tribute band, he asked me to leave my spare keys
so he could use my house for his spring break next year.
Spring break, I thought, as if we were college students.
I said, “Do I have this correct? You want to visit when I’m not there?”
And he back-pedalled fast but it was too late.
I thought of all our rough edges and desires;
all the careless remarks that you can whitewash,
pretend did not happen, but this is clear to me:
if truth is a straight white candle, then booze is the match
on the flame that melts and twists and drops.
You can put the sledgehammer down.
You can put the wall back up, chalk boring white.
Published in The Interpreter’s House