Rows of Houses, by Leah Bobet

when her heart beat, I was home, and nothing
needed changing. the clouds retched sunlight
through the halls; she threw the blinds and howled.

all along the cul-de-sac, the painted bright homes
smiled; our house grew greyer, grander by the
hour. the plumbing dripped red mornings, ducts
gasped afternoons: the tissue shreds of words she’d
thought of saying. the walls were still furiously built
for two. outside, the living wandered screaming;
chewed the throats of panicked pigeons ’til blood
dazzled grey feathers. trapped and swaddled in
our private common disaster I kissed the air vent,
whispered in coherent I’m still here, and braced
for apparition: one of a row of steady houses.

there are secrets only learned in habitation:
the fizzled wiring, dipping floors. each cramped
compartment where we keep our hearts. that
behind smooth curtains, all the walls are falling;

that when we met, I feared my own
unsoundness to tend a helpless house.
but in possession, I understand good homes.
I kept my lights flickering, my doors creaking
in clear weather, my house haunted as long
as she needed me; until the blood ran finally
down the walls and I could bear her letting go.

Leah Bobet’s poetry has recently appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Plenitude, and Climbing Lightly Through Forests: A Poetry Anthology Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin (Aqueduct Press). Her most recent novel, An Inheritance of Ashes (Scholastic Canada/Clarion Books US), received the Aurora, Sunburst, and Copper Cylinder awards in 2016, and she was guest poetry editor for Reckoning: creative writing on environmental justice’s 2021 issue. She lives in Toronto, where she makes jam, builds civic engagement spaces, and plants both tomatoes and trees. Visit her at

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