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Published: Wed Oct 15 1975
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 4 Home Family Journeys

Pried from its wooden stand
on the middle of the block
our two-story house on Oak moved slower
than my watch
through white summer days to its vacant lot,
a neighborhood of early mowers
on Siesta Drive.

My sister arrived dressed for the second shift.
A cool beauty at eight she knew about
things coming apart on sight.
Hands over my ears
I heard expansion joints wrench,
stared faithful as a god into that crater.
The furnace looked silly
barely able to keep itself going.

Bedtime was better than that.
In the moonflowing street
I eased into
those hollow rooms
where headlights swept the shades, asleep
all night in the sweet hum
of the traffic.

As feeling affects the body,
as a sleeping mountain moves men,
as Shasta Daylight transports honey in tank cars,
that old house moves us again.
At the Office for Short-Lived Phenomena everyone says
contact the center of volcanoes
if you want news.

See what's inside AGNI 4
It Runs in the Family
AGNI 98 Family Home Journeys
Online 2023 Family Journeys Race
Online 2023 Family Home Loss
Tiger Mom
Online 2023 Journeys Family Loss

Madeline Defrees is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Spectral Waves (Copper Canyon Press, 2006) and Possible Sybils: New Poems (Lynx House Press, 2006). She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently lives in Seattle. (updated 6/2010)

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