Room to Room
It terrified us to know the world
drove past for hours—ratty couch,
shoes in muddy piles, the sepia
dead we loved in frames above
the reading chair—everything
visible from our mailbox, the door
blown open like a hospital gown.
We told ourselves the tumbler
never caught, our hands forgot--
keys, coffee, electric bill, our boys
clamoring for us to change
the batteries in their beeping
games we hated. Through the screen
I peered for the murderer, crouched
in some shadowed corner, imagining
how authorities would later recount
my suffering spelled in splatter
on the ceiling. He fought for his life
they always sigh into the camera, before
the screen floods with the wreckage
of a body in photos mold-flecked
from years in storage, a sheet
draped over the frozen face.
From room to room I crept,
an umbrella clutched like Excalibur
while our puppy trailed, bewildered
and wagging. He ran donuts
as we carried in a trunk-load
of groceries, our great protector
whose stupid tongue panted dusk.
He gnawed a knotted sock to tatters
while we filled pantry shelves
beneath our backyard garden beets,
arranged in rows by month, floating
like butchered organs in their jars.
ADAM TAVEL is the author of The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), winner of the Permafrost Book Prize in Poetry. You can find him online at adamtavel.com.