It was dark on the old street
lined with elms. I stood on tiptoe
at the front door, and stared
through the slim windows.
The long hallway was dim,
branched off to the girls’ room.

For years they complained
about each other’s habits,
and drew a line down the middle,
but when it came time, neither
would take the bedroom I left.

Water ran in the pipes. I listened
to the clatter of plates in the sink,
mother cleaning up after supper.
She worked alone.

From my spot at the dining table
I could hear her hum “Unchained Melody”
as I pored over math problems.
In his living room easy chair,
father scanned tomorrow’s punch list
for the building site.

How calm, how ordered it seemed,
but I couldn’t open the door.
There was no knob and I wasn’t Christ.
My hand traced the scratch marks
of our last dog, buried under the hedge.
I knew I was on my own.

About Vincent Wixon

Vincent Wixon’s most recent book of poems is Blue Moon: Poems from Chinese Lines from Wordcraft of Oregon. His previous collections are The Square Grove and Seed. For many years he’s worked with William Stafford’s papers, now housed at Lewis & Clark College. His most recent article, “William Stafford and His Publishers: The Making of West of Your City and Traveling through the Dark,” written with former Stafford Archives Director Paul Merchant, can be read at
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