THE ONLY HOUSE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Fall 2014 / Issue 96

Sarah Rose Nordgren

The stove doesn’t work. The food is painted

on the refrigerator door. No stairs join

 

the three levels, and the residents flit

between them, colorful, mute birds. Days

 

pass with the click of a switch and no matter

if Baby bathes with his clothes on, or Mother

 

in her fitted purple jacket, heeled shoes,

and with her wild silken hair spends a week

 

face-down on the laundry room floor, or

if when Father goes to work he is really only

 

waiting behind the sunroom to come back home.

There is a birthday party nearly every day,

 

no fear of death or failure, no mortgage

to pay, no money at all. And if the tiny pink

 

phone in the kitchen never rings, and the doors

don’t open, and if the family can’t bend

 

their knees to kneel in the warm square of light

on the plastic-wood floor, they are still

 

ready for you to set the table, snap the garden

fence back into place, position the pink crib

 

next to the blue, fix the girl onto her rocking horse,

and let your hand push the thing until it topples.