The Empirical

I peek in a window ajar. Trespassing.
Leaving stones turned, a garden of footprints, the trampled rose bush
I meant to protect. Not picking the roses, their little spiked handshakes
pricking the reddening hand, red as the velvet
scented labyrinths. I thought the house brick,

but it’s a trompe l’oeil. Up close, a red peeling

and inside, people sitting in circles, things (not tea cups)
balanced on knees, and flashing—a long white dress,
someone caught in its sweep. Someone faints.
When she’s lifted, the dress V’s beneath her,
the scene choreographed. Candles light up the stairs, the sills.

I might be watched from the street, or a car, looking silly looking.

The odd murmurs sound like prayers but tell me nothing.
The O O O of the circles,
the awkward postures leaning in.
Who’s stepped from the edge into a circle’s ring?

And to see, even outside, with partial view. The window closing,
or opening.

Cynthia Hogue
from her book Or Consequence
Mammoth Books, 2010
used by permission of the poet

This poem was catalogued in Poems and written by Cynthia Hogue. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Hogue

Cynthia Hogue has published seven collections of poetry. She taught in the MFA program at the University of New Orleans, served as director for the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University, and joined the Department of English at ASU as the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry.

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