Door Wedgies

A well-made door hangs straight, remains parked
where you have left it ajar, is slow to slam in a
crosswind. But you know the universe is a lilting,
tilting bowl of entropy, that doors tire and droop on
their hinges, their jambs swell with the rain, then
never recede to their original shape. It’s a place where
fences topple in a gust, cars skid on a patch of sand,
pebbles flying, tires grating. People slip on the ice,
come down hard, with a smack. The dog yelps in the
yard, runs out to the end of his chain, flies back like a
yo-yo. The key gets stuck in the lock, there’s a wrestling
match and a head of lettuce gets squeezed out of the paper
grocery sack, bounces across the porch. In the kitchen the
eggs leap out of the carton and plunge to the floor, canned
goods hurl themselves off the counter to dent the linoleum,
refrigerator magnets lose their grip, shatter on impact as
papers flutter down. Meanwhile the cat tips over the potted
plant and in a panicked escape undermines the magazine rack.
It’s  getting worse, you go to the doctor and slam your new
coat in the car door. “You should be more careful,” he says,
pointing to where the coffee table caught you daydreaming
or thinking about the time the pressure cooker blew six pounds
of pot roast and potatoes onto the kitchen ceiling. Or the time
the phone rang just as you finally said “I love you.” You just
can’t win, it’s either he came too soon or she didn’t come at all,
elbows catch a breast, a rib, a knee slams a groin, somebody
scratched where they shouldn’t have. What’s the use, toes are
divining rods for sidewalk bumps, knives are hungry for nicked off
bits of fingers, cupboard handles nibble at your knees: Ouch! Shit!
Words you use to scare them off, always too late. And someone left
the window open, papers and receipts take off on their own,
cartwheeling across the driveway. They’re off to find that ring
you lost while raking the leaves, that contact lens the dust storm
claimed. Oh gravity’s greedy, all right—it demands you lay a little
skin down on the pavement, leave some fingernail in the workbench
drawer. Irresistible, it plays tug of war with your face, belly, and
bottom, you droop when you would be firm, eventually you sag at
attention. And now the gate swings open, flaps in the breeze, doors
slam and bang, it’s enough to send you to the hardware store for
door wedgies, staple guns, glue, and twine. Duct tape and wire,
nails, bolts, rivets—There’s a war going on here! you say as the
change slips between your fingers. This gravity business has got
to stop
, so you’re off to glue those eggs into the refrigerator door,
you run a safety wire across its shelves so that mayo, those olives
don’t take another dive at your toenails. Safety locks for the
cupboards, refrigerator magnets in the trash where they belong
(close the lid), duct tape for the vases, the stereo speakers, cords
for the bookshelves—Execute that end table with the one short leg,
it’s part of the conspiracy!
 And out with those potted plants,
time to stick them in the garden—just watch out for that hoe, it’s
always aimed at your foot arch, your forehead. The magazines
look handsome in their twine confines, a little unavailable but
dignified. Same with the candlesticks riveted to the mantle,
so stately, so grounded. This house is taking shape! The
floorboards don’t creak anymore with all those nails in them,
the coffee table’s cute, swathed in its foam rubber. The
dishwasher a bit marshmallowy around the edges, the swag
lamp tethered to the corners of the dining room table—no more
gashed shins and temples! Safe at last, you think as you squeeze
into bed. It’s a bit awkward with the ropes and nets, but these
bedcovers aren’t going anywhere. Yes, secure, you sigh. Then
outside the window, the sound of rain falling down. Falling. Down.


This poem appeared in One Shot Deal in 1990.

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