Overnight Guest

By Ruth Stone 1915–2011 Ruth Stone
Waiting for your ride in front of the house
where you spent the night,
where, as a third ear
during their endless intimate,
important, and kinky phone calls,
you pretended to rinse glassware;
you were a dog from the pound,
grateful, sniffing the upholstery.

Later, lying in the center of their
king-sized bed, a giant wall-to-wall
mirror, isolating you like a rabbit;
it was also their exercise
room with torture equipment;
something in you twitched;
flickering a bizarre video in your head.

It’s morning now. You’re standing
outside, with nightgown and toothbrush
wrapped in your purse, waiting for a bus
to take you somewhere else. You’re depressed.
They’re asleep of course. Their network wrapped
around them. You keep wondering why you’re
missing something. Then you look back and see
your pricked-up ears, your waggy self, stuck
inside their picture window, where for years
it will wave at you—naive, apologetic, embarrassed.

Ruth Stone, “Overnight Guest” from Ordinary Words. Copyright © 1999 by Ruth Stone. Reprinted with the permission of Paris Press, Inc.

Source: Poetry (June 1998).


This poem originally appeared in the June 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

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June 1998
 Ruth  Stone


Poet Ruth Stone was born in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1915 and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She lived in a rural farmhouse in Vermont for much of her life and received widespread recognition relatively late with the publication of Ordinary Words (1999). The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was soon followed by other award-winning collections, including In the Next Galaxy (2002), winner . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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