What Lies Inside by Luanne Castle
Outside the fence the street leans down town past 
wood and brown shingled storefronts and homes.
I can drive my trap or walk, but I prefer to stay put 
where they can’t steal from me. 
Inside the fence, I count. Black and white cat with her sucklings: 
one, two, three, four. 
Stable with carriage and two horses, chicken coop, 
shed, front stoop. We sit tiered by generation. 


Outside the house my father signed the dark brick 
with light stone bands, as a parcel is tied with twine. 
He is known throughout the county for his masonry. 
I expect my end to meet my beginning here. 
Inside, my father’s pipe smoke circles him as a frame defines 
its subject. My husband locks the store late 
and comes home to a dinner plate-sized steak, business 
talk with my father, a bottle of jenever. 


Outside the door with its tulip carving my little son crowds 
me, pulls my skirt, raises his arms to me 
palms open. I close them in my fists, turn away. What heavy air, 
close with tobacco and burnt meat. 
What lies inside is one bed, one dresser, one washstand and my husband 
damp and rosy reaching for me, too. 
If I don’t have this one space, where can I go to protect this self 
kept inside only by my thin twitching skin? 


What lies outside my mind is nothing. Mother’s bones cleaner 
than steak bones, buildings diminish to the horizon. 


Inside my mind 
a junkyard, castoffs from outside others, 
flickering and igniting when struck on its inside walls.


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