Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Cleaning out the Gutters

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Cleaning out the Gutters

Article excerpt

Even starlight needs work. I hire out, a little light, a little warmth,

a few odd jobs. But who wants to hoist the wooden ladder

against the clapboard siding to clean the copper gutters?

They apron her house at the eaves above like an inner ring of Saturn,

weightless and rare, so the light, textured, a prism of indigo and violet,

green and greener, changes everything, and the view fans forward,

if not into the future, then a mile west to the next farm, where the neighbor's

setters still look like dogs but smaller if better fed, and the two girls

might be her own but for the yellow hair. Up this high

it's a kind of ballet, my thousand arms circle the rotting ladder

while its peg legs sink through too-soft earth, and I've misjudged how to

cinch the upper rungs, so something slips above me where paper

wasps go on adding to their parish. What do stars know of houses? All's grist

here in the gutters, hard-packed with seed pods and shingles, acorns, pocket

change and periwinkles, though we're half a continent removed from either

ocean. …

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