Each time I return to this house that doesn’t
feel like my house, I enter like a thief or maybe
its victim. Pushing on the door with gingerly
dread, I listen for alien sounds that whisper
turn and run back to wherever you’ve come
from, wherever you’ve been. Its tidy, hushed
dignity does not dissuade me from opening
every closet on the second floor or dropping
down to my hands and knees to survey
the space below each bed. I test the glass
knob on the attic door, look for the folded
paper I’ve stuffed into its crack–assurance
that the door has not opened, that this house
has not betrayed me. The potted plants eye
me with limp need as I practice these rituals.
Patient as an empty chair, this house shows
no signs that it’s had enough. Gently sighing
from time to time, it reckons that the years
will pass and one day I’ll come home to it
and forget to test all the window locks.
Leona Sevick is the 2017 Press 53 Poetry Award Winner for her first full-length book of poems, Lion Brothers, and the 2012 first place winner of the Split This Rock Poetry contest, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye. She was a finalist for the 2016 Ciardi Prize and a semi-finalist for the 2015 Philip Levine Poetry Prize, and her chapbook, Damaged Little Creatures, was published in 2015 by FutureCycle Press. She is provost at Bridgewater College in Virginia, and can be reached at leonasevick.com.