House Hunting, January 2009
BY ANTHONY FRAME
for Sandy Johnston
We’re told this one’s bank owned.
The heat having been off for months,
we watch our breath drift through
the vacant rooms. My wife clutches
the loose banister as it shudders
beneath her hands. We see potential,
the rooms big enough for our stuff,
our weight. The paint peels and drips
off the walls, as if shredded by water.
I kick through debris, sorting out
the house’s past life, a pile of balloons
in a child’s room, deflated by age,
red and white shriveled in the corner,
once wishing some sick girl well.
But there’s writing on these walls,
the primitive blue cursive of crayons:
So long house, we love you, and
we’ll miss you. God knows we’ve seen
much worse, fist-sized holes peppering
drywall like gunshots, caving ceilings.
Bathrooms ruined by backed-up
sewer systems. A homeless woman
camped out in a basement, a tattered tarp
for a sleeping bag. Still, this blue scrawl
follows us like a nightmare. This
life laid out in blue. Blue as the wind
hurled by our city’s river. I can work,
my wife and I know it. We can cover
this mortgage, cover our hours with
this roof. Even I can repair the pipes,
the banisters, the creaking stairwell.
I don’t know how to paint this room.
Anthony Frame is an exterminator who lives in Toledo, OH with his wife and their spoiled cat. His poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Third Coast, Versal, Mobius, Connecticut River Review and New Plains Review, among others. His first chapbook, Paper Guillotines, was recently released by Imaginary Friend Press. He is also co-editor of the online journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry. You can find out more at http://www.anthony-frame.com.