A Sunset By The City
by Gwendolyn Brooks
Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love.
My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls,
Are gone from the house.
My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite
And night is night.
It is a real chill out,
The genuine thing.
I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer
Because sun stays and birds continue to sing.
It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes.
I am aware there is winter to heed.
There is no warm house
That is fitted with my need.
I am cold in this cold house this house
Whose washed echoes are tremulous down lost halls.
I am a woman, and dusty, standing among new affairs.
I am a woman who hurries through her prayers.
Winter announced itself uninvited on October 20 this year, nearly a month before we were expecting it. Six inches of cold wet snow fell and unlike usual October snow falls, didn’t have the decency to melt the next day. Even hardy Minnesotans that rave about their enjoyment of winter activities look at this snow a bit eschew thinking “I really do enjoy your company but you could at least let me clean up the place before you arrived for Thanksgiving.” I was in denial that the winter snow warning was real, but finally had to admit it and went out and finished raking and bagging my back yard leaves just minutes before the flakes began to fall.
The start of winter this early, means the start of the heating season nearly a month sooner, so the furnace has come rumbling to life once again. Houses have their own heat signature irrespective of insulation and R values, quality of construction or size or type of furnace. It takes a while to understand how a new house reacts to your presence, your nosing about in its nooks and crannies, cooking and showering, leaving doors open or closed, frequent use off certain rooms, disdain for others.
What if my favorite room is the house’s least? What a let down I would be. I think houses sometimes don’t appreciate their new tenants for a while, sending cold drafts under the table to freeze my feet or baking me in the second floor in summer. Eventually things simmer down as each learns about the other’s habits. We are as much room mates with our rooms as we are with our mates.
I hope this new house is getting used to me. I am learning its creaks and sighs in the middle of the night, figuring out its preferences for which doors to leave open and which to close. The house is enthusiastically encouraging my frequent cooking, warming the entire downstairs when the stove is in use during fall and winter. It cringes at my criticisms of the repairs that are needed and blushes proudly when I admire its finer features. A house that is empty ages quickly into rack and ruin while houses that are lived in remain youthful and energetic. If you are cold, in your cold house, light a fire, in both of your hearts and invite someone to sit down and have a cup of tea and relax by your hearth.
The Night Migrations
by Louise Gluck
This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds’ night migrations.
It grieves me to think
the dead won’t see them—
these things we depend on,
What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won’t need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.