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Where We Live Now Analysis

Author: Poetry of Philip Levine Type: Poetry Views: 151

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1We live here because the housesare clean, the lawns runright to the streetand the streets run away.No one walks here.No one wakens at night or dies.The cars sit open-eyedin the driveways.The lights are on all day.2At home forever, she has removedher long foreign namesthat stained her face like hair.She smiles at you, and you thinktears will start from the cornersof her mouth. Such a lookof tenderness, you look away.She's your sister. Quietly she says,You're a shit, I'll get you for it.3Money's the same, he says.He brings it home in white slabsthat smell like soap.Throws them downon the table as thoughhe didn't care.The children hearand come in from play glowinglike honey and so hungry.4With it all we havesuch a talent for laughing.We can laugh at anything.And we forget no one.She listens to motheron the phone, and he remembersthe exact phrasing of a child's sorrows,the oaths taken by bear and tigernever to forgive.5On Sunday we're having a party.The children are taken awayin a black Dodge, their faces erasedfrom the mirrors. Outside a scumis forming on the afternoon.A car parks but no one gets out.Brother is loading the fridge.Sister is polishing and spraying herself.Today we're having a party.6For fun we talk about you.Everything's better for being said.That's a rule.This is going to be some long night, she says.How could you? How could you?For the love of mother, he says.There will be no dawnuntil the laughing stops. Even the pinesare burning in the dark.7Why do you love me? he says.Because. Because.You're best to me, she purrs.In the kitchen, in the closets,behind the doors, above the toilets,the calendars are eating it up.One blackened one watches youlike another window. Whyare you listening? it says.8No one says, There's a war.No one says, Children are burning.No one says, Bizniz as usual.But you have to take it all back.You have to hunt through your socksand dirty underwearand crush each word. If you're seriousyou have to sit in the cornerand eat ten new dollars. Eat'em.9Whose rifles are broodingin the closet? What arethe bolts whisperingback and forth? And the pyramidsof ammunition, so manyhungry mouths to feed.When you hide in bedthe revolver under the pillowsmiles and shows its teeth.10On the last night the childrenwaken from the same dreamof leaves burning.Two girls in the darkknowing there are no wolvesor bad men in the room.Only electricity on the loose,the television screaming at itself,the dishwasher tearing its heart out.11We're going away. The houseis too warm. We disconnectthe telephone.Bones, cans, broken dolls, bronzed shoes,ground down to face powder. Burnthe toilet paper collected in the basement.Take back the bottles.The back stairs are raining glass.Cancel the milk.12You may go now, says Cupboard.I won't talk,says Clock.Your bag is black and waiting.How can you leave your house?The stove hunches its shoulders,the kitchen table stares at the sky.You're heaving yourself out in the snowgroping toward the front door.


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