about the author

Michelle Menting’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, The Southeast Review, and Weave Magazine, as well as other journals and anthologies. She is also the author of the chapbook Myth of Solitude (Imaginary Friend Press, 2013) and Residence Time, forthcoming from {dancing girl press} later this year. A recent Sewanee Scholar, Michelle currently serves as a Contributing Editor for Split Rock Review.

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Two Poems 

Michelle Menting

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Upon Encountering a House in the Woods with No Driveway, No Trail, No Footpath Leading to the Front Door

Lights on, and they appear as a false sunset
through the forest wall. Their glow tricks,
says, Here is clearing. Space. Open. Free.
Walk here.
Like a lone Gretel, you do.
This house has vents like lungs that parcel
the air, parse dust in two: outside blow bits
of leaves and pollen; inside, cat hair, shit
from mites, scales from a Garters’ shed.
The siding flakes in gaudy eyelashes,
the sort you imagine on vaudeville clowns
who welcome with grins in union with grimace.
This house is surrounded, circled by spruce and firs
that peer into windows. Their needles collect
in the corners of the frames. These trees don’t practice
personal space. They claw and scratch the siding,
each other. They reach and grasp the needles they’ve lost.
Or do they lament the wooden strips, curled with rot,
that once were branches, their cove of relatives’ bark?
This house, it troubles: the breeze, the trees, and the people.
Are there people? Rocking inside, rocking in chairs,
rocking in place on a loveseat couch with bended frame
and houndstooth fabric? Cats, phantoms in black,
on hollowed laps. So bare. Everything so worn, everyone
so thin. So see-through. Could the cats be shadows?
Could the people wisp through the lungs of vents, out through
the cracks in the windowpanes? Would their forms drift
outside into the limbs of spruce and fir in a waltz
of bough and breath? Would pine needles pierce any skin?

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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 has sash cords. They fray. They thread.

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.

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