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The Length of the Hour

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New houses relax on the fields.
Garage doors open soundlessly
to admit the monster. Tires stretched
over forty pounds of air
pressure float across gravel.
 
The boy closes the last storm
door on the last evening
paper and runs to the car
where his mother waits. She does not
answer him; the door slam freezes
her dreams. It is January.
 
A dog chained to a barn door
keeps barking. Somebody’s angry,
scared to let him go.
On the other side
of a forest past these fields,
wolves sniff the hard snow
of the tundra. I lay beside the only
tree for warmth, there
where the pack might find me.
 
The house takes care of us now.
Look at the meat
browning under the light.
The refrigerator switches on;
ice crashes into the tray.
 
Here are locks in case someone
wants to do us harm. Remember
how the police had to pound and pound
to wake us that night a white Cadillac
leapt from the icy road
 
into the arms of our maple! It hung there,
empty, doors flung wide—
it was a great white petal of a car,
breathing under the gas-lights, opening
and opening.

Cynthia Huntington, “The Length of the Hour” from The Fish-Wife. Copyright © 1986 by Cynthia Huntington. Reprinted by permission of Cynthia Huntington.
Source: The Fish-Wife (University of Hawai'i Press, 1986)
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The Length of the Hour

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