IN THIS HOUSE: THE GRAPES OF WRATH
Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly
that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes.
– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
We sneeze down our shirts. Not much is shared here except our love
for the oppressed. I promise to never forget these nights you read
The Grapes of Wrath out loud, a monotonous gale that fills our house
of bricks. You annunciate as if I'm deaf while I sit like a mute: we
are such a pair. I'm afraid to admit I've fallen for Tom, his bloody ways
and strangled speech. I know his heart is a swollen fist of nails, and
even though you'll never admit to it, I'm certain you would slap
the Okie slang from his lips and I would be there to catch him mid-
plunge. While you're busy reading, I'm fast writing myself in. I search for you
in this classic, fall asleep knowing tomorrow is another chapter, another
cough, another suffering symphony that holds this house together.
Rachel Mallino's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in 42opus, BOXCAR Poetry Review, Ouroboros Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, Wicked Alice, Stirring, Blue Fifth Review, Weave Magazine and others. Her poem, Knucklebone, placed in Sundress Publication's Best of the Net 2006. Inside Bone There's Always Marrow, her chapbook, is slated for release in April 2009 by Maverick Duck Press. She is the founding editor for Tilt Press and lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, daughter and various lovable animals.