Arctic Revival

by Callie Siskel

selected by Elizabeth Alexander


Nature never stops.
              —Claude Monet

There's nothing in the garden
as yellow as the dining room.
Nothing as opaque.

A single buttery shade
covers the walls and closes
around the furniture.

Two lengths of rope
tie off the room from the house
as though warning of wet paint.

It's lacquer and sunlight
through the patio doors that give
the illusion of liquid

where there's none,
where everything is set.
Even the yellow table,

draped in white
and the eight cane-back chairs,
each one pushed in

to a willowware plate
and a crystal glass
we couldn't raise.

You were my father
for nearly thirteen years.
I asked you why

we weren't allowed
to touch anything that day,
but you could not have known

the room would go unchanged,
and we would be outlasted
by a heavy coat of paint.



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