Three Houses and a Wish

By Linda Bamber

Featured Art: House by a River by Edward Hopper

1.Chevy Chase

Choked up to see the in-ground cellar door
behind the house
I was born in long ago

then had doubts, cell handy,
called older sister far away.

She said, wrong house!
Original had front yard oaks,
big porch . . .

found right house, had no
response at all. Used up tears on
house that didn’t know me from Adam!

2.Eva

Holocaust survivor’s daughter
famous now
back in Krakow for a biopic

stumbles upon her first home
not white
oak-shaded pile but
Soviet style apt bldg and
guess what? coming out was Mrs. So-and-So
from all those years ago. Emotional embrace.

Whoops! Camera crew caught
unprepared, requests a re-enactment; and
guess what? both oblige.

3.Truth and Reconciliation

American couple flies to Johannesburg
to forgive their young white daughter’s black
assassin, also young. Camera pans up township path
to house the kid inhabits
with his mom. Next thing you know
the Americans come out
laughing. Whaat??? Oh,
wrong house (again)!
Their daughter’s killer
lives next door!

4.Wish

If only Death itself behaved like that—
saying,
“Oops!” when it makes a mistake
(which is almost always, when you think about it;
not just when someone’s been killed).

“Oops, wrong house!”
Laughing.


Linda Bamber is a Professor of English at Tufts University. Her poems, essays and reviews have appeared in The Harvard Review, Ploughshares, Agni, The Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New York Times, The Massachusetts Review, Southwest Review, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere; her poetry collection, Metropolitan Tang, was published by David R. Godine.

Originally published in NOR 15

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