Home > Poetry > Self-Portrait as Housewife
Published: Fri Jul 1 2011
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Self-Portrait as Housewife

Your dreams hold your days together.
_           _ You spend your time transforming stars into

kitchen implements that you could bake potatoes in.
_           _ Or coming up with one good reason for crying

over dirty socks or falling asleep each night with all
_           _ the lights on in the house. Waking, you can’t help

remembering the first, but not the only, time
_           _ you took off all your clothes and stood there

like a pile of unopened letters. And then
_           _ the kissing would begin; tongues rummaging like hands

through someone else’s desk drawer,
_           _ decoding his system for living. Remembering

those few extra minutes you stayed in the shower––
_           _ because you wanted to. Because it meant something to you.

A woman is wading through the dark rooms
_           _ of her house, each one stagnant and swarming

with loneliness. She wants to say I, but can only say You.
_           _ And a man hates his son’s crooked teeth so much

it hurts: they ring like a fire alarm. Pieces of a shattered
_           _ mirror keep falling in her eyes, she can’t help it.

Come now, the dishes never put themselves away.
_           _ Reapply your eyeliner, pick a fight with a saleslady.

Living is forgetting, blue wings beating against the window,
_           _ portraits through the centuries with every feature

exaggerated. I cry out to the trucks heading South, the shifting clouds,
_           _ anything that moves: I know what it’s like, take me with you.

Austen Rosenfeld teaches writing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Salmagundi, Carolina Quarterly, AGNI, The Antioch Review, Gulf Coast, and Hunger Mountain. Austen has received distinctions from The Atlantic Student Writing Contest and The Ruth Stone Poetry Prize. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA at Columbia University. (updated 10/2014)

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