Spencer Smith poetry


He wakes with the uncomfortable feeling
that he is in the wrong house.
The color of wall paint is slightly off
in the lantern glow of morning light,
and the space next to him in bed
is empty, a large divot remaining in the pillow.

In the shower a needle of water darts past his teeth,
the taste different from what he recalls.
He dries off, puts underwear on backward, corrects it,
then scans the shirts hanging like beef
in the closet—they seem unfamiliar.
He slips one on and it is too loose, unsatisfactory.
He avoids the mirror, afraid of whom he might see.

In the kitchen his wife has an odd brand of coffee ready.
He parts his lips to thank her
but sees a mole on her cheek
that he does not remember. And her hair—
it seems to be styled like someone else he once knew.
He says her name, and it feels strange in his mouth,
so he does not complete the sentence.

Deciding he is no longer hungry,
he steps out into the musty garage,
stopping to watch dust motes swirl in a spray of light.
Standing by the workbench he tries to recall
why he is there.  He looks at his car—
there is a new scratch marring the door;
at least, it seems to be new.

He wanders outside and settles into the porch swing,
which feels like it is tilting the wrong way
as it glides under his angular hips.
Staring across the street, he is unsure
when the neighbor repainted his house.
And those flowers in the planter near the door—
did his wife just pot them this morning?

After a while she joins him on the swing,
her weight balancing it.
Her eyes seem puffy and there is a blush to her nose
as if she has been crying.
She says nothing, just reaches over,
places the cool dry skin of her hand on his,
and rests her warm cheek on his shoulder
in that familiar way.




The house refuses to open to us.
It clenches the fists of its doors
until we pry away the fingers
one by one with our key.
It breathes its musty displeasure on us
as we stand in its throat like tongue depressors,
the groaning ah of old floorboards beneath us.
We inspect the rib cage of its walls for cracks,
climb up its windpipe into the garret,
peer out the upper windows to see what it sees,
invade the colon of its basement.
There is resentment here. It does not know us.
We are foreign bodies, viruses,
transplanted organs it is trying to reject.
We glance at each other in silence and exit hastily.
It leans over us as we stand on the grass like vomitus.
We hurry to our car,
the gaze of the house making our backs itch,
trying not to look as we drive away.