Poem | 'Houses'

Given gravity, it is only right
that the houses hunched along the road
seem substantive and unconcerned.
Yet their great weight distorts the air,
as the castle in the fish’s bowl
makes the fish seem ill at ease,
unsuited to its situation.

The soul if it is a point,
a tiny point adrift within,
can not answer their harrumph
nor penetrate their shingled bulk
to coats hung in their mudrooms.
The passing man is himself a bowl,
and his soul a fish that hovers there.

He feels it drifting through his skull
a blinking thing with things to say,
if only it could find its tongue,
as sunrooms drawl of ottomans
and concrete steps with wrought-iron rail
say all there is to say about
coming in and going out.

In darkened dens, glowing bowls
sit silently on polished tops
while ashy flakes come drifting down.
So the soul is fed on flakes of wonder—
the passing man senses it
rises open-mouthed and then darts down
to storm around its quavering castle.

Published in the February 24, 2017 issue: 

Don Barkin’s poems have appeared in Poetry, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, Verse, and other journals. His book, That Dark Lake, was published by Antrim House.

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