poem index

Household Mechanics

Sarah Mangold
He hid in plain sight 
his own highest hopes 
wearing the red scarf

They had rehearsed it 
blue ski parka 
clutch of photographs
the formative event of his childhood 
taken to the railroad station

He maintained a journal 
his real name 
safely stashed in Scarsdale 
Most of the spoken words 
modest wooden houses 
well-ordered chimneys 
The details of the dancing 
in the same pleasant tone 
But his first alcoholic beverage 
turkey with all the trimmings

Then, there's the sound 
your eye right up to the screen
a slight breeze in the back of the house 
the difference between spinning records

Sitting on the porch 
Violet has her suitcase 
in her bouncy way
feeling guilty about the string beans 
and at least for now how she breathes 
as someone always will
This sense of life relatively safe 
the service road everyone secretly knows

And this is not about
her placement as a showgirl 
and then to medical school 
I can't stand those eyes
whipped up and let down 
hundreds of vacant chairs 
taking piano lessons

The agonizing storytelling technique 
of the pencilmakers themselves
Lots of parked cars in the arms of her own home

I'd change my clothes
Assume the weight of tragedy
that a girl makes whose gown seems the awful truth 
The feel of it in these terms
the need to be redeemed in the flesh 
kissing each other's rings

From Household Mechanics by Sarah Mangold. Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Mangold. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.

Sarah Mangold