Thursday, November 29, 2007

from "Three Poems for a Twenty-Fifth Anniversary," by Richard Shelton

p. 122

1. Housecleaning

after returning
all the tools I borrowed
from neighbors and friends
and the books to the library

I am amazed to find
so many things around the house
like you
that really belong here

I had thought
you were on loan and overdue
the fines were mounting into millions
I could never pay them

so for twenty-five years
I looked everyone straight in the eyes
pretending you were mine
and I kept you

Oh, I love this one. The comparison is so unusual—his wife to an overdue library book. I think he’s saying he’s always known he doesn’t deserve her, but wonder of wonders—she’s given herself! A gift and not a debt he’ll never be able to repay. I just laugh at the last three lines—he’s so sweetly self-satisfied with his brazenness in claiming her.
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