Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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American Four Square

Self-assembled, sure, though the idea at first
was carbon filament and craftsman guilds, one master

sanding the hardwood wainscot. Then the West
unfolding like tapestry toward Klondike.

On a cobblestone block, before our mothers’
mothers’ mothers breathed, a home like this

could be mail-ordered, from Sears, from a fabled
city they would never see—four new rooms

in a boxcar shuttling through the switchgrass.
No florid corbelling, no finials.

No caliginous Victorian nooks. No matter
the original flooring sagged

beneath our bookshelves. Midnights
our two-step made the mantle quake. We said yes

to the modest Prairie Box, floor plan
recalling the glacier’s carved swath. To structure

“married to the ground” as Wright proposed, new beds
stretching their savage geometry

to Kearney, Sweetwater. Sometimes
even beauty needs a border.

Only in plowless tracts along the rail cut
does the wild iris cast, still,

its explicit spell. Yes, we believed
in this mythos. We lived between Church

and University, could almost imagine no one
had died there. We hosed the spiders out.

We spent a year of savings on a mission
sofa, an expandable ladder

to reach the dormer’s moldered siding. Perma-White
paint. Shirtless, thrown brilliant

bronze, he gripped the brush between his teeth.
History, the point being, requires the most audacious

of lacquers. We wanted natural light, to be hung
in picture windows. Let the neighbors watch

our weekday reverse cowgirl (all the world’s
a stage on the corner lot). Each night

our streetlamp, too, turning on
like a new thought.  

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