Eschewing the View for Quiet
Are we not to have any windows
you inquire, tired of the vigilant dog
barking. How is quiet too much to ask for?
You stomp around the shared rooms
shutting down the honeycomb blinds,
leaving us to imagine who walks by
on their way to the park. The dog cowers
beside me, knowing she’s been scolded
for what is bred and comes naturally.
There is no more blue sky
to be seen, nor the top of the crabapple
with its still bare branches. None of
the snow crystallizing on the boulevard.
Everything’s grown a bit dim and muted—
the passing of cars, or the yelp of another
dog from another yard, or your face.
In Paris, they grouse about the souped-up
motorcycles and scooters tearing through
intersections at all hours. The one man
says he’s moving away to where highways
become roads and then paths only
for hiking. Maybe there, there will be bird-
song heard over morning tea, or that
one mythical nightingale at dusk.
In the now transformed space, I look
to other vistas, thinking of my mother
as librarian, how she waxed the maple
shelves that held picture books
about winter nights, the startling
of an owl in a tree. I sit turning the pages
of my novel with the barest of rustling.
The dog dreams of running, kicking
her legs inaudibly.
* * * * * *
How spoiled I was
whining to my mother
those nights she made do
by watering down
the marinara sauce.
She’d swirl tap water around
in the jar to get as much as
she could, to not waste
what could be had, even if
doing so led to dilution—bland
pasta with dry bread as a side.
The three of us would sit
at the drop leaf table
in the kitchen, eating without
words while I thought on
other houses warm and light
and fragrant with fresh basil—
what she eschewed in the store
every time, seemingly favoring other
aisles stocked with those plain-
fronted cans. When I fell in love
the second time we bonded
over our childhood deprivations:
the coupons, the generic
honey oats, the dried onion flakes.
Had our palates been stunted?
Had I grown taller, if—? We threw
out words like miserly and cruel
as if we knew anything.