Distorted Glass by George Longenecker

Distorted Glass

Where we lived then some of our old window
panes were rippled; we looked through blue-green water
at lilacs and cosmos; in winter we looked through ice,
everything white, gray and frozen.
We had a baby then.
Some days winter sun, low in the south,
made rainbows on wide, worn floorboards.

Our daughter crawled to catch colors.
Then there were dark days, ice upon ice;
we looked at each other from either side of distorted glass,
neither one really seeing the other.
It was dark by four, windows leaked cold air,
on windy nights thumb latches rattled
answering mice in the walls.

Some things have to be fixed
if you want to survive winter,
not hide with your child under quilts.
It took us three years,
but we replaced the windows—
clear glass with no icy drafts.

Sometimes I wish I’d kept one of the window panes.
In the morning I’d look at fragmented iris,
their purple scattered here and there, or at icy rain,
or even at you in a different light—
not that I’d really want to go back—
except maybe to see our child
crawling after rainbows on the floor.

by George Longenecker, first published in Poetry Quarterly 2016

Editor’s Note: This poem uses allegory to convey an emotional narrative of a life, and how time passes and changes one’s point of view.


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