POEM OF THE WEEK: The Things That Keep Us Here

Cone Door Detail

THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE

I wouldn’t call them dream times exactly,
those moments when the wind finds you
folding clothes or putting the milk away.
And all that was no longer is.

As if you stepped out from another life
you lived just moments ago. It’s the smell
of the closet or the strain in that sonata
you listened to yet never heard till now.
But it isn’t now anymore.

It could be that a man you know well
turns his head in conversation to look
at someone and you notice the curve
of his neck below his ear to where it slides
inside his sweatshirt.

It hurts to see the softness there. It’s not
longing because you aren’t thinking
about the future. For a moment
you’ve forgotten about that. You should be
in a movie but you aren’t. It’s just your life:

a piano note, a folded shirt, the stray black sock.

by Christine Hemp
from “That Fall,” Finishing Line Press

IMAGE: Marvin Cone, “Appointed Room,” 1940 oil on canvas (detail)

About Christine Hemp

Poet and writer Christine Hemp has aired her poems and essays on NPR’s Morning Edition; she has sent a poem of hers into space on a NASA mission to monitor the birth of stars; and her essays have appeared in such publications as the Iowa Review, Yale Anglers Journal, and the Boston Globe. Her awards include Harvard Extension School’s Conway Award for Teaching Writing, a Washington State Artist Trust Fellowship for Literature, and an Iowa Review Award. Her poetry collection, That Fall, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Hemp teaches at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival.
Poems and Ponderings

1 response to POEM OF THE WEEK: The Things That Keep Us Here


  1. I LOVE this poem. If pressed to choose a favorite from “That Fall” (and I hope this never happens)…I would lean to this one. It is crisp and beautiful and real.

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