Poem by Melissa de Haan Cummings


Gloucester Mansion. 1924. Edward Hopper (1882-1967)


The string behind the back of the bench
Keeping its uprights from splaying.
The underwear and tees
Folded in half on the laundry line
Reachable only from the stepladder
In the thirty degrees and less
Where it will not dry until
This winter weather turns mild.
Copper tubing outside the wall
Horizontal under the upstairs sink
Because it was too much trouble
To put pipes inside
But the hot and the cold
Run to the faucets.

Uncle Jimmy tied loose circles
Of string around both upper
And lower doors
Of the refrigerator
So aging Re
Could not open them
On her nightly prowlings.
He put an open padlock
On the loop
Through the hasp
Atop the cellar stairs.
And the upstairs bed
Was moved to the dining room.

Wisps of dark
On a pale blue sea
As if the wind
Is writing.

“How was your Thanksgiving?”
“Boring.  How was yours?”
“Well.  I spent
The whole day cooking!”
“Nobody helped?”
“Nobody!  My daughter
Went to his parents.
Richie slept on the couch.”
“Did he eat?”
“O yeah.  They all ate.
It come out good, though.”

Sprained ankle slow
Prompting gratitude
And the behind dog
To trot ahead.

Air under thin ice
Water under dark ice.
The easterly horizon lavender
To pink to pale blue.
The westerly setting of sun
Covered in dark gray
Which will not disappoint
Kimi and Harry
Who like the peace
Of this time of day.

A slightly perceptible ripple
Under the perfect
Mirror of cove water
Is not a fish
Marks the rock
We played on.

Lavender becomes gray.

He claims the laundry dried all right
Although one clothes pin was frozen.

~ Melissa de Haan Cummings

melissa2bcummingsMelissa de Haan Cummings majored in French and English Literature at 
Bryn Mawr. She has published poetry in a number of journals. 
 She describes her interests as including, “much small boating around Cape
 Ann, love of Charles Olson, Hatha yoga practice since 1969.”

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