The House in Lyons Station
Our first apartment: small, rear, second floor,
Duplexed in that Victorian, the circle squared
At either end of the trim above the doorways.
Wood the augur had a hand in, shimmed strips
Squaring the frames that we’d step through,
A century later, in and out of our rooms.
We’d settled right in among the leafy sprigs
Patterning the walls, the craquelure
Veining the porcelain. In among the windows’
Thin wavy panes—the glass the one thing
I’d thought might not last—sashes framing
The fragility of things, as they do in hindsight.
The bathroom banked in clouds of steam,
My wife would step into her scented waters,
The antique tub up on the balls of its feet.
And floating above us, those nuptial nights,
The tongue-and-grooved bedroom ceiling,
Dark gleam as in some cabinetmaker’s dream.
Or in the square foot of light of the mirror
I’ve held onto for all this time. Wood-framed,
Eye-level, it’s found its wall wherever
I’ve lived since then, the rooms doubled in it
Twice removed, their beveled perspectives,
And the vanishing points the light casts back.
Morning filled the rooms in which Vermeer
Painted paradise—its tile floors and maps,
The stillness of women at their luminous tasks.
The radiator stood its ground
In our living room,
A bolted-down fixture,
Fronted by the furniture.
I loved the pounds-per-square-inch
Of the thing,
The way form followed
Function throughout it.
Loved the specific gravity
Its slender waters
Brought to the house.
Cast iron’s corrugations
Braced on squat peg legs.
Each fall I’d open the bleed valve
With an ornate key,
Drawing off pockets of air.
Heat’s hissed release:
Our clanging, piped-in climate.
Robert Gibb is the author of Sightlines (Poetry Press, 2021), his thirteenth full-length poetry collection, winner of the 2019 Prize Americana for Poetry. Other books include Among Ruins, which won Notre Dame’s Sandeen Prize in Poetry for 2017, After, which won the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize for 2016, and The Origins of Evening (Norton, 1997), selected by Eavan Boland as a National Poetry Series title. He has been awarded two NEA Fellowships, a Best American Poetry, a Pushcart Prize, and Prairie Schooner’s Glenna Luschei and Strousse Awards.