James Tate – The Wrong Way Home

All night a door floated down the river.

It tried to remember little incidents of pleasure

from its former life, like the time the lovers

leaned against it kissing for hours

and whispering those famous words.

Later, there were harsh words and a shoe

was thrown and the door was slammed.

Comings and goings by the thousands,

the early mornings and late nights, years, years.

O they've got big plans, they'll make a bundle.

The door was an island that swayed in its sleep.

The moon turned the doorknob just slightly,

burned its fingers and ran,

and still the door said nothing and slept.

At least that's what they like to say,

the little fishes and so on.

Far away, a bell rang, and then a shot was fired.

(James Tate, Kansas City, Missouri, 8 December 1943)

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