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The Archibald Rutledge Prize

Starkey Flythe, Jr.

The House: List

The House

is not made of flesh and blood,
is not, strictly speaking, alive,
though clay, a handful of dust,
what we are made of, a spare rib,
a truss, an eave, built it. Bricks
exiles squared from Pharaoh’s straw lay
the foundation, and trees that grew and drew
water and light milled the woodwork, floored
the rooms. Where does one install necessities, stairs
to rise? Baths to wash away? Famous for forgetting,
a low country architect added vitals later, doors, front steps
closets. A fire escape for lovers, naughty
children to enter and leave secretly, or tenants
to flee rent. Funny, or sad, an inexplicable
feeling, when I see the house at dusk,
soft evening holding it together, its windows
melted sand shining—looking not at me
but something beyond, in the distance,
and something like time itself whispering
it has waited, stayed in one place, stiff-armed
wind and rain, shut its portals against storms
while I was away, trying always to get back.

The House: Text
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