The House with Only an Attic and a Basement

When two sane persons are together one expects that A will recognize B to be more or less the person B takes himself to be, and vice versa.
— R.D. Laing, “The Divided Self”

The woman in the attic did not have visitors.
The man in the basement gave parties that were popular.
The woman in the attic had mononucleosis.
The man in the basement had type 1 diabetes.
The woman in the attic listened to audiobooks which the man in the basement held in disdain.
The door to the attic swelled in some weathers; in order to shut, it had to be slammed.
“There is a way in which” was a way in which the man opened sentences, as in “There is a way in which to close a door so it doesn’t slam.”
The woman in the attic took cautious walks to build her strength.
The man in the basement pointedly said, “Some of us have ailments which are not manufactured.”
The man in the basement wrote stories about heroin.
The woman in the attic read stories with heroines.
The woman in the attic noticed a bruise that ran from the top to the base of her thigh.
The bruise looked like Europe.
The man in the basement was in love with the sister of the secretive man who loved him more.
He whooped at the woman, “You killed your student?”
To himself he wept, “I killed my father.”
The man in the basement, recently divorced, was left with literally two possessions.
The woman in the attic purchased books on psychopathology.
The man in the basement produced fecal matter
that blocked the pipes in both attic and basement.
The woman in the attic produced nothing at all.
The woman in the attic was a waste of space.
The man in the basement had sex almost daily.
The woman in the attic had panic attacks.
The man in the basement had only one rule:
the woman in the attic was banned from his bedroom.
But once she stole in and lay on his bed
in his absence (or perhaps he was absent because she was there).
The man in the basement moved to the West Coast;
the woman in the attic crossed the Atlantic,
whereas the house with the attic and basement saw states
of fumigation, exorcism, detoxification, and rehabitation.

More Poems by Kathryn Maris