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"Visitor"

I am dreaming of a house just like this one

but larger and opener to the trees, nighter

than day and higher than noon, and you,

visiting, knocking to get in, hoping for icy

milk or hot tea or whatever it is you like.

For each night is a long drink in a short glass.

A drink of blacksound water, such a rush

and fall of lonesome no form can contain it.

And if it isn’t night yet, though I seem to

recall that it is, then it is not for everyone.

Did you receive my invitation? It is not

for everyone. Please come to my house

lit by leaf light. It’s like a book with bright

pages filled with flocks and glens and groves

and overlooked by Pan, that seductive satyr

in whom the fish is also cooked. A book that

took too long to read but minutes to unread—

that is—to forget. Strange are the pages

thus. Nothing but the hope of company.

I made too much pie in expectation. I was

hoping to sit with you in a tree house in a

nightgown in a real way. Did you receive

my invitation? Written in haste, before

leaf blinked out, before the idea fully formed.

An idea like a storm cloud that does not spill

or arrive but moves silently in a direction.

Like a dark book in a long life with a vague

hope in a wood house with an open door.

—Poetry, September 2011

Brenda Shaughnessy is the author of Interior with Sudden Joy (1999), Human Dark with Sugar (2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Our Andromeda (2012).