23 Madison Avenue

By Maya Phillips

Today, after the cable is disconnected
and the phone line is cut, after
the electricity bill goes unpaid, this

is what is left behind: rusted
frying pans, ceramic mugs, winter coats,
all 27 years boxed and taped

while the wedding dress hangs
untouched in the closet, the lace stretched
over the front like a web.

Since my mother stopped wearing the ring
we don’t speak of him.

We don’t speak of the mice
dying in the walls, the everywhere smell
of rat poison and rot.
                                                Maybe today no rot—

only rooms of undying. Only rooms
of open windows and light, so that maybe today
this can be the house I grew up in:

the ceilings will patch themselves up,
the windows will unbreak
and open themselves to the yard,

which will tame its wild forest of bushes
and weeds. The fence pulls itself back up
and this house, now another,

on Main across the church,
on Cedar by the pier, blooms
yards of perennials and trimmed grass,

pathways of measured brick, the door—
open and familiar—greeting us
as though we never left anything behind.


Maya Phillips, “23 Madison Avenue” from Erou. Copyright © 2019 by Maya Phillips. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books, fourwaybooks.com. All rights reserved.