From the Archives: About Poems
About the House
Like a city built on rock and roll, the house is structurally unsound. It consists largely of stairs and stairways and staircases, and all the small things stairs require. Balusters and balustrades. Bullnoses and open risers. Handrails. Newel posts. Landings, flights, mitred joints, drops, scrolls, winders, treads. It’s an assembly of curves and helixes. It’s held together with spirals and strings.
Every door in the house is slightly smaller than its corresponding frame, and so each one has a tendency to open and shut without warning. Nothing fits as it should. The windows stick; the floors tilt. The walls meet at all the wrong angles. The roof extends beyond the bounds of decency. It defies all modes of description.
About the Pool
The pool was imaginary. The pool came and went away, according to the girl’s moods. It served as the focal point for all her fantasies. She spent whole summers there, languishing in a demure bikini, leafing through fashion magazines and dog-eared coming of age novels. The girl tasted her first beer at the pool; it’s where she practiced losing her virginity. It’s where she sat on early autumn nights, dangling her feet, tracking the moonlight as it moved beneath the water. The pool had a lot to recommend it. It required minimum maintenance. It remained serenely blue in every season, even when the girl forgot its existence. The pool could accommodate any number of guests, any combination of events, but on most days, it held only the girl, and her thoughts, and the slight weight of her desires. The pool bore all these things gracefully. They swirled along its surface, swimming alongside the dead leaves and jaunty flotation devices.
About the Bar
The family got the majority of their ideas about families from black and white films. They tried to replicate every important detail exactly and spent their weekends sifting through thrift stores and yard sales looking for the right sort of furniture, or bed linen, or glassware.
The father felt particularly proud of the family bar, which he had stocked with all the most extravagantly named liquors. Benedictine, Chartreuse, Campari. Cherry Heering and Maraschino. Crème de Violette. Lillet. Aperol. Calvados. Crème Yvette. He tucked bottles of Parfait d’Amour between the St-Germaine and Chambord. He grouped some bottles alphabetically (Frangelico, Galliano, Grand Marnier, Herbsaint) and others rhythmically (Amaro Montenegro, Curaçao). The shelves behind the bar sparkled, their colors dark and vibrant, like the stained glass in all the best churches.
When company came, the father liked to take out his collection of vintage shakers and offer to make manhattans, martinis, negronis, vespers. Guests amused themselves by ordering even more exotic cocktails – the Blood and Sand, the Alamagoozlum, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 – which the father mixed with extreme caution, mumbling proportions under his breath as he poured and stirred. To his immense shame, the father himself only drank straight scotch. He often wished that he preferred another drink, one best served on the rocks, the ice cubes falling into the glass with a comforting clink, clink, clink.
Gillian Devereux received her MFA in Poetry from Old Dominion University and currently teaches ESL classes in Cambridge, MA. Her poems have appeared in FOURSQUARE, apt, H_NGM_N, Open Letters, Gargoyle, 32 Poems, Wicked Alice, and other journals. Her chapbook They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights will be published by Aforementioned Productions later this year.