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This Picture Was Born When A. Wyeth Climbed Out
on the Weathered Roof of Henry Teel’s House

Mia Nussbaum

Seed corn strung like scalps,
Dil’s tree with its crossed foxtrot legs.

A story about habitations carved from snow.
Fallen snow, not falling. Buttonwood, peavey.

When Alvaro and Christina die they become
two doors: one black; next, sky.

They are also, perhaps, the cast-iron skillet,
the string-bikini girl poised to sow beans.

So sometimes the world is made still.
Sometimes you’re home and it’s thaw.

Sometimes a swashbuckler with a dry brush bivouacs
to catch the salt breeze that bristles the lace.

Hush. Honest men sleep with their shoes on. We love
things for what they are. Texture of shingles, say.

Lobster trap elegies. The way a hung coat suggests a general’s death
on the banks of the Monongahela, and dinner guests, toreadors.

How, sixteen years before he kills himself,
Allan’s handlebar streamers and foxtail fly.

Everything birthing its vanishing point. Even the sycamore,
which is to say, even the man, is due to be shot, skinned and tanned.

But seedpods are sachets or paper balloons
and an oil drum serves to roast nuts.

Meantime: Arabella Cleveland, her chin
returning to slop, grows blue flax in clumps.

Cooling sheds, phrenology. Moose racks, buckets.
The smoothness of a plank box and the irregularity of hay.

I think it’s very cold there. I think Andrew loves
his wife: her posture beneath a flat-crowned hat.

Mia Nussbaum

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