The first thing I notice
about a house
is where the baskets
will go,
some little architectural
detail that says:
baskets could be here,
which means so could I.

The house where I live now
has a wide doorway
between the kitchen
and the sun porch
where I work.
Not an arch
but a square.
Painted blue.
When I first peered
through the windows,
imagining my life
into this space,
seeing through its
shot-gun design,
I remembered photos
I had saved,
of baskets hanging
from a kitchen ceiling,
and could picture that
in this space.

What is it that goes wrong
with houses,
that causes us to outgrow
them, like shoes.
Our inability to dream
whole and complete?
And not as I used to suspect,
the universe playing
another nasty trick.
Trapping me in own
hasty requests,
exclaiming to God:
“This is not what I meant.”

Faulty manifesting.
I have grown skitterish,
feeling the need to qualify
with more precise details,
and longer and longer lists.

Recently it has included
a stainless steel sink,
not only a re-action to
the stained one I currently use,
but something I have always liked.
So I find a house with
a stainless steel sink,
and nothing else to redeem it.
“I need a place that’s
easy to maintain,”
becomes central to my
but I have to love it too.

I grow fixated with this
maintenance issue because
I am sick of cleaning up.
Before I’ve finished my list,
I find a house I love
that does not have
crannies and cobwebs
built into its character,
as the houses I loved
in the past always did.

But it has all electric appliances,
things I neither need
nor had thought I wanted.
A trash compactor which embarrasses
me to even think about.

“A new broom sweeps clean,”
she says of her new studio space.
I misunderstand the adage
and think she says,
“A new room sweeps clean,”
which is what I’ve been thinking,
though I am apprehensive
to trust the truth of that.

I’m afraid of what these
contraptions may do to my soul.
Why can’t I find
the simplicity I have been
seeking since long before
it became fashionable?
I have been throwing stuff
away for twenty years,
and there is still too much.
I spend time and energy
trying to free myself
from mailing lists,
so there is less to eliminate.
I have blamed the cats,
my husband,
the modern world,
the working of my own mind.
I have given up hobbies
and throttled urges,
in an attempt to keep the
stuff at bay, and still
it does not look like
the home of someone whose
policy is:
the less you own,
the less you have dust.

I’ve quit sewing,
I’ve quit canning.
I’ve quit crafts
before I began them.
I don’t buy clothes,
or furniture.
I’ve never been one
for appliances or gadgets,
never need the latest thing.
I like what’s basic
and enduring,
but where can I find that?

I have friends who have
mottoes against order
displayed on their refrigerator,
beneath so many other things
they can never be read.
That has never been my way.

I have been advised
that the balance I seek
cannot be claimed,
that one hungry cat
will overthrow it.
But I can have no
peace of mind in chaos.

I yearn for the energetic
vibration of the cleanly
swept hearth,
of something gleaming.

I peer in the windows
of an all-electric house,
uncertain as ever where
my mandates are leading me,
a high shelf in the living room
with recessed lighting,
which the realtors bill
as romantic,
is a perfect place
for baskets.