Countless Little Thresholds
of Desire, by Jackie Bartley

For years the roof of this house sloped, front
and back, a perfect, Cape Cod symmetry.
Until new owners built an addition with a flat
roof that joined the back slope halfway up,
sealed tight the prism of space between.
We dreamed of a closet, a bath, inside the place
we’d someday explore. I thought of mine shafts,
tunnels that ran beneath the neighborhood
where I grew up. You imagined a cave,
its wooden walls scored by rusted nails.
But when we tear down the wall, we find instead
a wasps’ nest big as a boulder, stare at its gray,
swirling ramparts and abandoned chambers,
recall summers we sprayed that side of the house
along the eaves to rid ourselves of wasps
hovering there. But we didn’t know they’d entered,
never heard what must have been a faint,
restless agitation behind our bed.
That was before we understood
that emptiness wants only to be filled.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 4.

Jackie Bartley’s poems have appeared most recently in Nimrod, Southern Humanities Review, and Pinyon. Her third poetry collection is due out soon from Three Candles Press.

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