Personal Estates


A vet's four Vietnams harbor under sleeves.
Mission oils occupy my museum wing.
Old sofa's cat-scratched and starting
defenselessness over with a loose-weave slipcover.
It submits to cricks and tucks.
Childhood lashing lasts as folk art,
palm-prints passed down young behinds.
Paramours romp the toile-stamped
byways of kine and trellises, dogs fishing
in a barrel, elves riding snails over
the canopied bed. Once-flirty
philanderers bore the book channel.
How revealing.
I frame my surgical toes' grisaille
x-rays above the claw-foot tub.
I bury dear Mother, claim her heirloom
pots of faded greengage, fraises
des bois, des alpes, blue-black labrusca
burgeoning on hand-gilded sides.
With ladder now, I make off with
the last thing I'm entitled to, the famous brains
of my maiden aunt's Scott and Burns
on the shelf nearest the ceiling.