On Being a Visitor

by Lauren McKenzie Reed

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Loons, like so many whooping alarm clocks
tangled up in trees, imitate the trains:

      Calling, calling.

Books on every shelf, stacked hopefully, in corners.
I’d even read some of them, in some life.

You paid for this.  Like birds
you coax them down, one at a time,
to ruffle their feathers,
see inside to their secrets.

I watch your lips move in the mirror
as I steal glimpses from the shower.

You’re reading from memory.

You take me to a play.  Everyone shakes your hand.

I smile a lot more than I’m used to,
appreciating you from this distance.

We’ve had good lives together.

Later we’ll make love with the National Spelling Bee on,
that familiar way, shadows casting Richmond
skyscrapers across the bedroom:  your bedroom.

Poet Lauren McKenzie Reed received her M.F.A. at West Virginia University as a Joe Crocker endowment and Graduate Teaching Assistantship awardee.  She currently teaches ESL courses at an Intensive English Program in the United States, but has studied in Mali, interned in Germany, and traveled further than her little girl self ever dreamed.

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