A Frame of Air

May 03, 2017

Photo courtesy Michael Gaida
Introduction by Ted Kooser: Once the carpenter put the sash-weights into the wall next to the window, they were never seen again. Eventually they fell off the ropes and with just one loud outcry fell deeper into the dark. But we propped the windows open with this and that, and forgot about the weights. Here's a poem about those props by Michelle Menting, who lives in Maine, and who was once our assistant at American Life in Poetry. Her forthcoming book is Leaves Surface Like Skin from Dancing Girl Press.

Objects Used to Prop Open a Window

Dog bone, stapler,
cribbage board, garlic press
   because this window is loose—lacks
suction, lacks grip.

Bungee cord, bootstrap,
dog leash, leather belt
   because this window had sash cords.
They frayed. They broke.

Feather duster, thatch of straw, empty
bottle of Elmer's glue
   because this window is loud—its hinges clack
open, clack shut.

Stuffed bear, baby blanket,
single crib newel
   because this window is split. It's dividing
in two.

Velvet moss, sagebrush,
willow branch, robin's wing
   because this window, it's pane-less. It's only
a frame of air.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Michelle Menting, “Objects Used to Prop Open a Window,” from Decomp Magazine, (February, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Michelle Menting and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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Look for my travel writing here