inside this next vase, likely

 

The doorknob’s crystal transmits in radio filament:
come in, come in, the voices thin as a bargain.
The voices were tuned to the door’s position
and disappeared only when the people left the houses,
which was how the people understood

the houses were never empty, though they searched
but could not find.
What the voices asked for were volume
and a body. The people woke to insistence and static,
stars and night air: they left their beds to find
what sang, what asked, what said and said and said.
Mornings, the children woke to find
the parents sleeping in the yard after having emptied
the couch like a stomach.

Mom, they’d ask: Did you find it?
The sounds swelled across breakfast: a horse
crossed the finish line. The President was up
to something. A cello darkened the frame.
This was fine for the man who understood
it was angels. He’d always wanted to know
the answers to things. Now,
he understood the prices were high,
the Sox were trading up, the roads would need repair.
Sometimes, pausing at the door between
in and out, he would hear it:
how it was out there and what to look for.

He knew sunsets were opened up by silt
and what women wore underneath.
He likely pitied the way we asked each vase,
each cup:
is it you? Are you in there?
Our shirts hung over possible bodies (what is it
we should know?)
. At night
we lay down in impressions we couldn’t be sure
we had made. Did we check the closet?
Should we disassemble the light? At any moment,
we might fill what was empty, empty
what was filled. This was how we understood it.
This is what they said.


Winner of the Brittingham Prize for Poetry (2010) and the Four Lakes Prize for Poetry (2013), Jennifer Boyden is a freelance editor, workshop instructor, and speaker. She has taught writing, literature, and research courses at Suzhou University in China, Eastern Oregon University, Whitman College, The Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology, Walla Walla Community College, and at a variety of workshops and writing series. She lives in Friday Harbor, WA.