“Remodeling” by Mary Angelino

Mary Angelino


Struck with purpose, my father and grandfather 
worked silently together, in a language
of pointing and nods. My brother and I knew
not to ask questions when we brought them lunch 
on plastic trays: tuna salad sandwiches
swaddled in napkins, the pitcher of lemonade 
that left vanishing halos on top of the brick wall. 
They’d work until the sky forgot the sun,
our new red door (only one in the neighborhood)
pulsing beneath the streetlights’ glow. My father

would lose that house and never earn enough
to own again. What mattered 
was they let us carve our names
into wet cement. And for two perfect months 
she was whoever we wanted her to be—
that woman kneeling in the moonlight—
the marble sink shimmering 
in the middle of a wall-less, roof-less room.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020


Mary Angelino: “I’ve been working on this poem since my MFA days (2007–2011) at the University of Arkansas–Fayetteville, where I wrote mostly about loss—in this case, my childhood home—and my attempts to unearth its mysteries in images that have stayed with me (like initials in cement and the marble sink). Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art’ is persistent and luminous for me; I love how she builds to the big losses. Her ‘—Write it!—’ is why I write.

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