Poem by CL Bledsoe
Photo by Marysia Wojtaszek

First House

The woman opened the door before
we knocked and pushed us through
the rooms, selling the storage space,
fireplaces on two floors, windows
that opened to deer sleeping
in the woods that darkened the house.
"Most of these lights work," she said, filling
the cool space with words; “you can’t even tell
you’re living at a school until a kid
knocks on the door.” She lived there with her
daughter and a great black
lab who eyed us longingly and didn't whine.
She passed the master bedroom twice
with nervous eyes and finally showed it
last, distracting us with the walk-in closet,
concern over the dog smell. "As soon as we
saw this room, Frank said, 'I guess this is yours
because it has the biggest closet.'" We laughed
at this strangely familiar reference
to the husband we assumed she'd divorced
because we'd never seen him in our year
of living on a campus the size of a parking lot.
I went to look in the bathroom and she winced
and held out a hand to stop me. She guided us downstairs
and out with promises of an email, later.
We re-crossed the campus through light drizzle
already spreading our two-bedroom apartment's worth
of furniture throughout three floors. The next day,
a friend would tell us that Frank left the kid at daycare
and slit his wrists and ankles. "Her daughter
is at least five," my wife will say. "I wonder
why she stayed in that house all this time."
We will begin to consider the light
our apartment gets during the entire day,
the ground space for gardening we'll lose,
the trouble of moving even across campus, the life
we've already grown comfortable with. 

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