Kate Northrop • The Place above the River

The house is empty now and girls go in.
They rise through evenings in the summer.
Across the river, music begins:

Love, it’s summer. The closed homes open.
The docks are decked with light. But farther,
the house is empty and girls go in

to light their lovely cigarettes; they listen
closely to the woods. Leaves? A slowing car?
Across the river, music begins

where wives are beautiful still, and thin
(in closets their dresses hang, sheer as scarves)
while the house is empty and the girls go in,

shimmering, to swallow vodka, or gin,
which burn, and to lean from where the windows were.
Across the river, music begins

and will part waves of air. Now. Then.
The season’s criminal, strict and clear.
The house is empty. Girls go in.
Across the river, music begins.