Poems of Place & Displacement

My Father's House

I walk into the room where he sat
and read his Westerns, his newspapers--
painted horsemen on the walls, the antlers
and ox shoes hung above the doors.

Two years have passed since he died
and, still, so much suggests he's here.
I sit in his chair to keep the room
from flying away, the house tied

to all I've felt about this world.
He has become the past he loved:
the Russell wranglers roping grizzlies,
the shoes that knock the night-time stalls,

a cowboy life arranged in snapshots.
I refused to see his dead face
and now it looks at me through most
dark windows.  So I've come home, in his place,

to sit in his recliner and think.
A swallow outside the window builds
a mud nest, a spider spins
its dinner plate the light just gilds.

How innocent these ironies--
the swelling spring, the blossom-smells,
the way the swallows shine and preen
on electric wires, their sexual chatter,

a green Stetson hanging on a horn,
the telephone message saying "We
can't come to the phone right now,"
a nose-bleed blood-drop on the floor--

how quick their needle to the quick.
In this house full of relics to
the ordinary, something is turning,
the way a doorknob turns, then clicks.

House made of bottles

Photo credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Copyright 2007,  Joseph Powell

Joseph Powell teaches at Central Washington University and has published three books of poetry, as well as a textbook on meter.                                                                                         

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