I Am Trying to Remember If I Married For Love | Kimberly Ann Priest

Image: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

I Am Trying to Remember If I Married For Love

Long beams are carried in on strong arms,
belts fitted with tools and the Oklahoma sun
warming the backs of the heads of workers
remodeling the house across the street
though it’s colder than usual for these parts
in February—even a dusting of snow. The grass
crunches beneath their boots, dry, and blonde
like a young woman’s hair, as I watch them
unload their truck, turning toward one another
now and then to chat or chuckle or pat a back
before lifting another board. The windows
of this home must be original, the same panes
of glass it was born with and I wonder
if they will be replaced, if the paper that surely
continues to adorn the walls, peeling,
will be stripped, its bones re-fleshed in fresher
hues, if the organs that pump life into toilets,
showers, and sinks, into outlets, lights,
hairdryers, and phones will undergo surgery.
How long until the porch is secure
and the roof healed of all its leaking? A few
bi-fold doors lean against the home’s old siding—
closets, it seems, have been opened and rendered
doorless as heaps of a former life are gathered
in piles of trash that exit the home in large bags.
Down the street at the halfway house,
men smoking cigarettes also observe
this pageantry with me and I wonder if they
are thinking what I am thinking—that someone
bought that house with all its imperfections,
after an assessment, not knowing exactly
how the whole thing will turn out. The sky
grows overcast and snow begins to fall again
so the men at the halfway house drop embers
unto the sidewalk to go indoors
as the workers hood their heads and continue
working. I pull my blanket tighter over
my shoulders letting the cool flakes fall against
my face and litter the doorstep around me.
I can’t leave now no matter what happens—
this is the part of the story I still like.

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress Publications 2021) as well as chapbooks The Optimist Shelters in Place (Harbor Editions 2022), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (FLP 2018). Winner of the 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize in the New Poetry from the Midwest anthology by New American Press, she is currently an Assistant Professor of First-Year Writing at Michigan State University, an associate editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and the James Tolan Writer in Residence at Writer’s House PGH. Find more of her work at kimberlyannpriest.com

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

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