Kevin Casey

Preparing the House for Your Return

There are the throw rugs that will have to go,

scattered across the floor like flotsam;

the rigging of loose electrical cords

must also be stowed to keep your cane

from catching, and your foot that still drags--

a dry anchor you’re forever weighing.

But what of your embroidery basket

that demands more than the burl of that curled hand,

and those antique stairs, tall and ladder-steep,

that make your second floor as imaginary

as even your recent past, when you weren’t

a prisoner in your house, your own body?

The instructions sent home from the hospital

said nothing about all these photographs

propped on every table, covering each wall:

if they should stay as maps you might pilot by,

to navigate your way back to us, to you,

or if they’re portals to a shore forsaken,

decorations that divert attention

from the water as it fills a scuttled ship.

As Warm As Blood

We felt pity for all the world had lost

when our final autumn failed at last,

shaking dried canes against the alder leaves.

The drama of the season’s first snowfall,

like a sudden view of an ocean’s expanse,

drew us outside into the blue dusk,

and we walked for hours. As the new year turned

in its fitful sleep, you carved a path

from porch to woodshed, driveway to mailbox,

shoveling a way that tightened with each storm.

Our imagination dwindled, bounded by frozen rivers,

overwhelmed by the stark canvas of winter.

The sun dipped its bronze paddle into the waves

of pearlescent hills, abandoning us

to February nights and that house we kept--

drafts and rattling windows, the cold

that huddled in every corner. Your eyes

dim lights without heat, I’d given up

believing that anything as warm as blood

might pulse and course within us, might move

within that house to stir the solitude.

Kevin Casey is the author of Ways to Make a Halo (Aldrich Press, 2018) and American Lotus, winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). And Waking... was published by Bottom Dog Press in 2016. His poems have appeared in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Connotation Press, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Ted Kooser's syndicated column ‘American Life in Poetry.’ For more, visit

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