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Self-Portrait as Housewife

by Austen Rosenfeld

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’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Antioch Review, Gulf Coast, and Hunger Mountain. She has received distinctions from The Atlantic Student Writing Contest and The Ruth Stone Poetry Prize. Originally from Los Angeles, she holds a BA from Stanford University and is pursuing her MFA at Columbia University. (11/2011)

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