There’s always the illusion the museum I carry
inside me, of coal dust, black bread and worn-out brooms
could turn into a seaside palazzo of framed lithographs
and immaculate linens. There’s the hope that some magical
storm could sweep over my life, making dinners prepare
themselves, dust motes fly back into the atmosphere,
newspapers slide out of their messy heaps into trash bins.
My marriage, too, could evolve like that dream
where I grow wings and fly through sun-filled windows
into the arms of a beautiful stranger. We two will
sit back in a chaise longue in freshly painted harmony,
tend hothouse orchids on the patio and photograph
street-sweepers at dawn. We will witness glorious sunsets
behind the Pillars of Hercules reconstructed on our lawn.
There will be no weeds, smudged windows or carpenter ants,
no growling dogs or nosy neighbors with garish swing sets.
I will indulge my desire for a Moroccan bathroom
with marble floors and a mosaic dragon. It’s not that
I can’t see that a fresh start is a white lie, my dream
of arriving at a fulcrum of elegance just another decorative
hope embellished with gold braid. The truth is I will
never get around to painting that dining room mural
or hanging linen swags. My success is of no consequence
to these walls. This ceiling fan could be the one I die beneath.
But I move past misgiving and chaos with chipped
stoneware, tattered baggage and dreamy optimism,
the throb of salvation beating in my chest like a drum.
—from Rattle #17, Summer 2002