Fall 2009, Volume 7

Poetry by Richard Luftig


My mother always said
you could never have enough
stoves in a house.
One in the kitchen resuscitating
life into leftovers downed
in parallel silence
with my father watching
TV or shaking the evening
paper into grudging obedience.

Another stove, poised
on the back porch alone
counting time until Sundays
when the running and noise
of grandchildren rattling
plates in the hutch signaled time
to make pasta and sauce until late
afternoon smelled full
of basil and bread.

The other appliances could
all go to hell as far as she cared;
coffee makers used to hold
spare change, and paper bags
stacked in the dishwasher
in brown sentry rows. But migration
of children has shrunk
the house like cellophane
left overnight in her freezer.

Now she waits for a niece
to put her on a plane in one city
only to be poured out
in another like tea from the kettle.
She looks out the porthole,
reads the daily bible lesson
and wonders how she will ever learn
to eat her daughter's TV dinners
cooked by microwave light.


Each day there is less of him
than the night before, as if keeping
to his half of the bed instead of claiming
all the sheet, all the air, dreams
they shared, yield a remainder
much smaller than one.
Learning how to be old

without bitterness is not an option
these days, so he hoards the warmth
of matchbooks, pens from old hotels
where they stayed awash in
lavender and  linen. Now she hides
behind each closed door, in every picture,
sleeping in the week's quiet dust

that sprinkle like snow from the ceiling.
He has grown accustomed to living
in stale house air not caring
to venture outside to a world dead
with winter. He waits impatiently
for daylight to abandon the room
as he returns to a bed cold and tightly made.


BIO: Richard Luftig is a professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland, Bulgaria and England. His third chapbook of poems was published in 2007.