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House Goddess

Donald Illich

We dig up zinnias from gardens
to garland her housewife’s body,
give her pantries our offerings
of food and wine, which disappear
in the night when we’re asleep,
replaced by brownies and meatloaf.
Driving our new station wagon
into her garage pleases her
immensely; she loads its trunk
with baskets of dresses, boxes
of ambrosia and baked beans,
dresses cleaners will bless with
chemicals that make them new.
We ask her questions, “Can we
have a new toy? When’s dinner?
Is dad ever coming home?
Are you going to die someday?”
She hands us a lover to play with
until it breaks; prepares a hundred
meals for holidays so we can
throw hot gravy at each other;
puts a suit and tie on mannequins
for us to throw catch with, baseballs
ricocheting off plaster arms;
fades into a picture on a shelf,
where we query her frozen face,
which listens to us Sphinx-like,
our six by ten glossy riddle.
If we hear our own answers,
a scared voice too much like ours
inside, we pretend its hers.

Donald Illich

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