Love as a Visitor

Set the table with your best silverware.
Use ivory napkin rings
and your mother’s china.
Make the guest bedroom bed
with clean linens and tight corners.
Set out fresh towels on the cleared shelves in the bathroom
and make space in the closet.

Buy the good kind of wine,
don’t overcook the casserole.
Hide the cigarettes you’ve been smoking.
Slip into your best dress, the plum one that doesn’t snag,
and braid back your curls.

Then wait by the door.
Will love ring the bell? Honk the horn before barreling
up your long driveway?  Maybe a quiet knock at the backdoor?

These things are certain: it will track mud
through your house, sit on your throw pillows,
and wrinkle the sheets,
leave dishes in your sink and skew the magnets on your fridge.
It will shove the remote between the couch cushions and
forget to feed your fish.  And at the end of its stay,
love will pack up its Wagoneer, spew gravel as it wheels
away from your home, and be gone.

It is only a visitor, expecting your best and offering its worst.
But for a brief moment, it is yours:
to sit in your chair, turn on your crock-pot, and sleep in your bed,
while its baggage sits unpacked in the corner of the room.

Kane Hollingsworth

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