Back to Issue Thirty-Six

The Gray House




took you but brought           me brought

to this house this            room in this gray

house that is more            than house that is full

is filled with you no            that is empty

with you that is filled            with the empty

of you is this            the house the empty

you came to before            it took you away

you came to this room            in this gray

house where I live            in this room where

I think I have found            the you you came

to before            house where you’ve brought

me where I am full            of empty with you






from his last months

passport application
stop paper / hold mail
take daffodils to M

new heels for good shoes
M this weekend
clean house

passport should arrive
get jacket pocket fixed
take daffodils

fix bird feeder post
M this weekend
clean house

2nd check for trip
water garden
take roses

leave key on barn shelf
cancel passport
cancel roses
cancel house



Inscription for a Pool



There it is you      always again
Here it is not      you but the idea (of)
Occupied space      in my mind
Or blue      film      over blue

And there what is    what were (we)
Here on the occupied page (where)
Wrote could for cloud      read light
showers      and opened my eyes (to)

Were written into that pool as if
by hand      our own      as if (we)
Here on the page      lacunae as text
Absence not    idea      There you are


Martha Collins’ most recent collection of poetry is Because What Else Could I Do
(Pittsburgh, 2019), which won the William Carlos Williams Award. She has
published nine earlier books of poetry, including Admit One: An American
Scrapbook, White Papers, Blue Front, and the paired volumes Day Unto Day and
Night Unto Night, as well as four volumes of co-translated Vietnamese poetry
and a number of co-edited volumes. Founder of the Creative Writing Program at
U.Mass.-Boston and former Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at
Oberlin College, Collins lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her website is

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