Two Poems

Two Decembers

Frost-less December street. White
Christmas lights spark through
Georgian windows stare
out at parked cars; a door opens
briefly and a woman who is not me
enters the heat

and family noise; I am a small girl
in a house I will not remember:
a narrow staircase, a mother’s shriek, a fist;
bulb shatters inside the shade. It is
cold, cold inside the dark brick house
There are wolves under every window.


Harriet Street Elegy

I wake with rust inside my head, the bed
beside me empty. Green-tea February sun.
Crosshatch of light through faded curtains, browned
by radiator. Mattress prone on carpet.
The hardwood floor worn smooth, black paint fading,
the ridges warm against my feet. I let
the kettle scream. The things I want to tell you.
Your desk is dark with pencil shavings, pens,
a photo from the beach last June. We sit
on front porch steps, we’re sunburned and smiling
for the camera. How I hurt you then.
I know this. Last night’s dishes in the sink.
The grease lifts, floats on soap bubbles. I’ll use
the last clean towel, leave the front door open.

—Nancy Reddy, Madison, WI