In spring, late afternoon sunlight
spills on inked-up pages,
a bottle of beer, and the cat who claims
the kitchen table where I write.
You sit across from me reading
the Romantics, lines about something new
pushing up from Earth, even against
the smog of a 19th Century city.
I think of Blake’s London,
the manacles of the mind,
painful faces that pass,
brown smoke that spits and soils air.
Here, in Scranton, Chamberlain factory,
a colossal slab of stone and steel,
chokes air with brown rings that rub against houses,
while blistered hands labor on assembly lines.
For now, I reach across the table, trace lines
of your palm, while the cat nudges us,
and I rest the pen, because, for a moment,
I want to watch how light falls upon your cheeks.
I want to inhale a tulip-scented breeze,
perfuming our apartment, until sunset
hushes this city, even the clanks of machines
at Chamberlain, where workers punch out
just in time to catch waning light and yellow-headed
dandelions growing beneath factory shadows.
What You Learn about the House
It's the knowing that the crack
beneath the living room window
may run as deep as a root,
right to the foundation,
the knowing that beneath white bathroom tiles
there may be a water-rotted floorboard
that will buckle and sag
beneath the weight of footsteps,
the knowing that one day
each window will surrender,
defeated by Pennsylvania winters,
and you will replace them one by one.
The inspection is like a first date.
The real knowing comes after the move,
once all papers are signed,
all boxes are unpacked.