The House Her Father Built

We threw hangers and saucers
out the window of the house
her father built.
She and her mother fled
that night leaving all the coats
hanging long heavy and awake
in the closets like insomniacs.
She and her mother and
the roadmaps in their palms.
All women have them, don’t
you know? All women
carry atlases for each other

As children she and I played grown
in the big naked half-built house
with no dishwasher and the walls
thin as Japanese silk screens.
Her father added an extra room
when he stopped being
able to sleep but the sun
colonized it, etched out
its own maps across the floor.

We were children before
the coats turned dusty
before the fields curled up
in his hands like a dead leaf
or a furrowed eyebrow.
Before the cornstalks
bent into arches.
Before the women all disappeared.

Diana Mellow

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