Night Houses

In the calming before sleep,
when hipbone and mattress lie
in quiet opposition,
neither wanting to give in,
I build for you a house.

Sometimes the design is yours,
sometimes mine.

The cabin squats somewhere
in Oregon—or somewhere else.
Rough walls,
mortised and tenoned,
weave in and out of plumb.
Quilts lay mounded
in soft congregations of blue.
Near a basin,
handmade soap fashioned from tallow and lye.

For sentry,
a bat folded gently on a rafter
in the loft.

My hands carve this space for you.

A farmhouse planted in Nebraska
between cadences of river songs,
fifty miles from the Missouri,
or twenty from the Platte.

There may be work.
On a farm there always is—
building fences from osage orange,
gathering eggs from saucy hens,
throwing hay bales in the cathedral of the barn.

And out the window, fat cattle graze.

My memories breathe this house for you.

A Victorian.
In turret, tower, and attic,
we come together,
small ghosts escaping to our childhoods,
playing in the night.

My father climbs the windmill
while the rest of us
play in faded make-believe.
We are kings and queens and pirates
riding dragons in the wind.

For one brief time, I wish this house for you.

And when hip and mattress
come to resolution,
in the moment before sleep begins,
I build for you a prayer:

Please keep these houses
and all who dwell within


Night Houses


Joined August 2007

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