We don’t own it: they’ll be coming for that thread of light
beneath the closet door. The desk is littered with damp bills
our postman set on a wet seawall-- shredding his sandwich,
feeding the least terns, living well within his salty means.
We don’t own it: this tumbledown hut on the wild coast,
home to silverfish and mold, contains one iron bedstead,
one rusted stove, two windows facing laggardly dunes.
Across the rainy field, each tuft and hummock in dispute,
a woman stuffs bills in the grate, measures out a fleck of tea.
A kettle whistles on the stove while the hatted county men
take samples of the soil. They stumble on Nadya’s red guitar,
home to centipedes, haunt of shedding garter snakes.
The gypsy children finger frets, arpeggios of old manouche.
The gray ones milk the nanny goat, prop the listing shed,
mend somebody’s fence from a bale of pilfered chicken wire.
Indebted to the wild fire, the summer grass is thick.
Where the cowbird steals a march, its lone apprentice egg
begs the canny crow to void its rent; in mimicry, its shell
assumes markings of the fostering pair. With common stealth,
squatters take on lordly names, daub the damp cave walls. T
hey leave strange murals with the ashes of their fires:
great horned bison, leaping deer, crosshatched reckoning of debts.
CAROL ALEXANDER’S POEMS HAVE APPEARED IN journals such as Chiron Review, Mobius, The New Verse News, Red River Review, and OVS. New work is scheduled to appear in Canary, Eunoia Review, and the Mad Hatter's Review.