Anna Lena Phillips Bell

Midafternoon

Walking the empty house
after a friend has gone­—
nosy in my own space,
watching the rooms return,

slowly resettling
into their daily selves,
as if, seen by other eyes,
the floor, the chairs and shelves,

the paths I walk between them
and objects on them show
the brighter, clearer form—
here shabbiness, here halo—

they wear for those who visit,
for eyes that don’t expend
as much sight on their sight
and see the sum of them

not dimmed by repetition,
not clotted with contempt.
In these now-hallowed rooms,
however full, unkempt,

I want to rest, to float—
a dust mote in a beam
of light squared by a window—
to sigh and lilt between

the object and the eye,
before the day can catch me
back up into myself,
and through that prism, watch me:

as I am in the house,
as I am, of the rooms—
as, in another’s kinder eyes,
what had been dull dust gleams.

Anna Lena Phillips Bell’s work is forthcoming in the Southern Review and Canary; her projects include the guidebook A Pocket Book of Forms. The editor of Ecotone and Lookout Books, she teaches at UNC Wilmington.