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Now Over the Empty Apartment

by Kate Northrop

You in the door look back
             and are no longer there,

although that is the hall
             through which you walked a hundred times
thinking well, what of it?—awake

             in the middle of the night—

and that is the window where the sky drew back & night came on,

             where the planes banked in
scheduled and flashing from the west—

             Your hand was pulling shut the shade
and mornings, your hand pulled it up again

though you are not there, you in the door going over the days,
             going as a wave goes, that is,

nowhere, and all your lovers now? Those real,
             imagined? The sad,
gratified sighs?

                          All that while,
through the evenings, didn’t something
             quietly call,

something off in the marginal light,

in the vapor through which
             the faces of passengers dimmed

and flickered? That slight
             rivering, insistent

beneath the blare of the television, beneath you as well, at the surface

busy with addresses, with pictures & books. You crowded the place,
             you in the door

who, looking back now—over the hallway, the shine
             of the relentless floor—

can no longer be sure

you are the person indeed who had that body
             and lived days in it there.


Kate Northrop’s collection Things Are Disappearing Here is forthcoming (spring 2007) from Persea Books. She is associate professor of English at West Chester University and a contributing editor of The American Poetry Review. (10/2006)

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