The House for Rent
By Nels Hanson
This morning above the low eastern bare
mountain sloping south, I saw a rose-colored
glow along the crest, and higher, at a slant, an
early jet’s pale contrail passing Venus fading
to a white speck, and remembered last night’s
dream, first one in many months I’ve dreamed
or remembered on waking. Again I walked our
old Valley town, same buckled sidewalks, and
recognized the same house we never lived in
or saw, except 40 years in sleep — recurring hall
and high-ceilinged rooms, olive carpet, green
wallpaper of twisting ivy, angled light that fell
at the tall front window of rippled glass, the same
bright dust floating the same August afternoon.
The For Rent sign in the yard made me stop; at
the open screen door on the familiar stoop atop
five worn wooden steps, a man with a woman
called to ask if I wanted to have their rental for
our home. I answered I wasn’t sure, my wife
and I had lived there many years ago and we’d
like at least to tour the house once more after
so much time had passed, to recall our former
lives, maybe meet again our younger selves.
Then a crowd filled the lawn; the owners said
the price was 1,500 a month, way too high for
us, and I began to walk toward the old-fashioned
downtown, to meet my wife waiting for lunch,
but the road led into farm country miles away.
As I grew tired — I knew I was lost and had to
turn back — I woke up alone, remembering my
wife was gone almost 10 months now and in
this world we wouldn’t touch or live together
or speak in any house I found asleep or waking.
In a chair at her unlit desk I watched the sky
turn gold then blue as a late October sun rose.
Copyright © 2020 by Nels Hanson.