This is the house that love built.
You know the one, it’s yellow
with the burning bush out front
providing privacy for

inside our bedroom window,
where nighttime huddling against
demands of the outside world
reaches its peak in darkest

hours, wrapped in hand-quilted rags,
flannel & corduroy clouds,
arms for buoying, protecting
all we’ve grown together. Yet

the long arm of you-know-what
is just outside that same glass,
its death-grip squeezing, squeezing
till the siding cracks, shingles

rattle; we crank the volume
to mute its scolding (you’ve made
poor choices, now deal with them).
Responsibility weighs

on the shoulders of the strong
so carry that weight, pillows
cast aside, carry that weight
as the strongarms of finance

squeeze us dry, replace slumber
with debtor nightmares, pin hope
to the immobility
mat, cradle every last dream

till we’re dead. In here tonight
our flannel sanctuary
still holds, ricketier than
yesterday, but standing on

a foundation stronger than
concrete, poured with vigilance,
shored between storms, poverty
at arm’s length while we make love.

For Kerry’s weekend prompt to the Real Toads, celebrating the birthday of Marianne Moore. This is my imaginary (okay, real) garden with a real (I wish imaginary) toad in it. Or containing it.

Also #3 of 30 Poems In November to benefit Center for New Americans.