“Exceptions with the Sloughing Off” by Lilah Hegnauer

Lilah Hegnauer


Never before had we been so angular and ready and situated,
never in the same way watching and watching
under the eaves wrapped in aluminum, paper flowers,
your ease with the Times. For thirty minutes: no more,

I took your corner tightly and felt like a criminal
undone with the scattering of seed. Looking back
I should never have stayed. Once round again, once more
it seemed to me that stay and go were the best

options: both of them. It seemed we were waiting
on some misdirected train to sweep over the hearth
and add its cookies to our picnic basket and say now
now now. Or we were waiting for a sleepyhead. Or we

were waiting for everybody to finish their lemonade
and head out. We waited and waited. We asked nothing
of the time except that it let us make down the bed
each night and steal our neighbor’s blackberries

and if we were a little droopy in the drawers it was
only because we lacked relevance. Our lives seemed
to exist next to our lives. Our lives rented
the guest cottage in our lives’ backyard, three terraces

down in the lowest garden. To explain: in another year
or era, I might have fished gumballs out of my pockets
and tossed them to endless children who popped out
from behind every imaginable crevice. I did.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009


Lilah Hegnauer: “In this poem there’s a house I used to live in, a child I used to care for, and a relationship I used to be in. But I’m not really in the poem. What I like about poetry: the way words and phrases, in repetition, grow new meanings and become larger than their origins. I like making strange bedfellows out of phrases we normally use in different contexts.” (website)

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