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Saturday, February 04, 2023


by Liz Ahl

The wind tries every latch, each seam, but

it’s the knuckle-cracking record-breaking cold 

whose fists pound hourly the walls, the roof, 

cop-heavy menace, tree-fall percussive, 

making the house itself a booming bass drum 

or splintering ax fall or too-close shotgun blast—

anything but a place you'd want to rest your head.

No use trying to bar the door: the cold knocks 

from deep already inside, beneath the stain, 

in the tightest betweens, down in the grain 

where some breath of moisture kept its own counsel 

for as long as it could before it finally froze and fractured, 

abruptly unloading its long-kept secret, releasing

in a compulsive shout what was once unspeakable.

All day and into evening the house tries to undo itself

like this, in some weird winter molt—clapboards and nails 

popping in a deconstruction zone of home-unmaking, 

house un-warming—and so tonight we'll play at sleep, 

pray we'll wake to the still-ticking of the faucets

we left open to slow drip, to prevent the pipes 

from joining the home’s involuntary revolt against itself.

Liz Ahl is the author of A Case for Solace (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2022) and Beating the Bounds (Hobblebush Books, 2016), as well as several chapbooks. She lives in New Hampshire.