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The House-Swap

 

That night the town was far behind somewhere,

And now the city lay there in the road,

A velvet box, ribboned with braids of light.

They slept in an apartment where the view

Of quiet boats remanded them to sleep,

But wakened them in time to go, to do.

 

The first day was a famous monument

They spotted from afar but never found.

The second put them in a drowsy bar

Where afternoon became a narrow sound

Of traffic sloshing through the rainy day.

 

The next few days were duty.  What they saw

Were underneaths of bridges, lines at doors.

Their nights were the apartment, where the view

At dusk was gull-swarmed barges hauling junk.

 

Meanwhile, the ones they swapped with sat and learned

What country life is like, upon a porch.

The husband, from the window, watched the storm.

His aging wife, in bed, no longer called.

 

The storm arrived as though on-time somewhere,

The blue tarp on the woodpile lifting up,

Blowing and floating higher in the gray,

Until by dusk it seemed a woman's gown

That never floated, as he'd hoped, away.

 

Joshua Mehigan

 

 

1997; originally printed in the Formalist.  Reprinted by
permission of the author.

 

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