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Loneliness is a House

by Lauren Singer

The house where you are sleeping is not your house.
You are trying it on; a consignment dress.
Here, you take long soaks in the deep bath,
scented with lavender salts, trying desperately not to see
the reflection of your own body in the faucet.
The wind rattles the storm doors downstairs, a familiar ghost
and you are a child, peeking eyes out from the down quilt.

You make good on your promise to eat at the dining room table,
and to eat well. No crumbs in the bedding, no potato chips
on the couch. You read while you eat yogurt like a fraud.

The house is too lovely and dire to own filth,
so you've convinced yourself that every stray speck of dust
or lurking cobweb must belong to you,
you bring the rot wherever you go,
so you crouch small behind the pellet stove
and the couch to sweep away detritus with your hands.

You have named the shower spider Laverne.
You bring her offerings, a dead fly from the sink-side
but she'd rather kill her prey herself, and you think that's reasonable.
When she waggles a spindly leg about her web, you wave back to her.
She is your only housemate.

You wait for someone to notice that you're missing.
You haven't really gone, but something has been snuffed out.
You are raw and sunken, a widow in a nightgown,
an orphan crying at the top of the stairs.

The punchline is that,
there isn't one.
The house will stand while you wither inside of it.
The windows will rattle but the glass will not break.
You are the poor foundation and the terrible bones.
They will tell you a renovation is useless, and if you're smart,
you'll carry out the demolition.


Posted on 01/09/2020
Copyright © 2020 Lauren Singer

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 01/11/20 at 05:53 AM

Excellent. Loved Laverne, the punchline that isn't, "You are the poor foundation and the terrible bones." My favorite line.

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