Home Bridal

By John M. Anderson

A month before we were married we closed
on the doomed house — eleven thousand dollars
my father's down-payment
wedding present, atonement: money

he'd made humping other people's lawn chairs,
wardrobes, worn
drapes and dryers, snow shovels,
files all year from one such echoing

dream to another. My wife-to-be disappeared to Phoenix to see
the last July of her single life
in the bone-dry
home of her youth while I

rattled like a wet cough in the chest of this house, rinsing
away the family grime of those earlier
residents in possession of
that money now. I whacked

veined, itchy weeds in the back yard, hacking —
scrubbed the fragrant stains
from my spoiled hands
in the foul sink, ached

to make this house my body, grow
acquainted with its views, wear
rough back steps to gray
satin with my sole, warm and round the lip

of the attic hatch, hang
window boxes vivid and
heavy with purple bloom
as the shadows weeks of love leave

beneath a honeymooner's eyes. Welcome
my bride at the door of a condition already
broken in. I napped, cheekbone
on the fresh-waxed hardwood floor that gave back

to vacancy the image of open-mouthed slumber,
fogging and clearing in my staggered
--------------------- Once the tomb
is opened the corruption is swift. I lived

between those walls longer in the thirty days
she wasted in the desert
than in all the thirty months
we were together there, one body.