Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Door

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Door

Article excerpt

I'd found a tiny line of mouse droppings

behind the silverware tray in my kitchen drawer,

and so my peripheral vision was on the alert

when a quick flat shadow along the mopboard

zipped into the cupboard where I found the farther hole

it must have vanished through. Then it came

unasked and plain, without reason or meaning

or comment, without event-the outside entryway

to my grandparents' basement. And inside it was light,

like a porch. So light, I remember thinking,

it should have been done in rattan and white.

And then I remembered it was.

Even though this was a storage basement

and no one, I was sure, ever sat in the chair,

feet on the oval of rug, reading a book,

it was pleasant enough down there to do that.

Open shelves ran low around the walls

the floor was dirt-who'd thought to paint the shelves?

Grandmother? Fussier than I'd supposed?

Or had it been the aviator uncle

I never knew, who was never anything

but young and handsome, whose face in every

photograph was the face of his father, younger?

Eulogies collapsed and billowed about him

like parachute silk. But these were brought to mind

mostly in the attic three flights up,

where once we slept with our cousins in cots

and an iron double bed and where his remaining

uniform was hung in a cardboard wardrobe

we'd punctured with a sword that must have been a relic

from another war. …

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