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by Madeline Defrees

Pried from its wooden stand
on the middle of the block
our two-story house on Oak moved slower
than my watch
through white summer days to its vacant lot,
a neighborhood of early mowers
on Siesta Drive.

My sister arrived dressed for the second shift.
A cool beauty at eight she knew about
things coming apart on sight.
Hands over my ears
I heard expansion joints wrench,
stared faithful as a god into that crater.
The furnace looked silly
barely able to keep itself going.

Bedtime was better than that.
In the moonflowing street
I eased into
those hollow rooms
where headlights swept the shades, asleep
all night in the sweet hum
of the traffic.

As feeling affects the body,
as a sleeping mountain moves men,
as Shasta Daylight transports honey in tank cars,
that old house moves us again.
At the Office for Short-Lived Phenomena everyone says
contact the center of volcanoes
if you want news.


A second collection of poems by Madeline Defrees is due in the spring by Brazilier. She will read at the New York Poetry Center in April. (Spring 1975)

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