Michael R. Brown

Red Cottages

In summer we open our houses

like camping gear, expand

into all the rooms, push open windows,

set tables and chairs beyond the walls,

take meals al fresco,

chilled wine but a vertical refreshment,

bugs passing playthings,

birds minor amusements,

the world moving freely around us

as we lean against each other and the trees,

our warmth fine haloes,

oak leaves a chamber orchestra,

pine strings in the fully opened amphitheater

with a ceiling of stars only cold stones

strewn about an infinitely unfurnished sky.

In winter the house shrinks to

one room pulled close to a fire,

most-needed things arranged

in sets from flames to walls,

door space to reach into the pantry,

the bedroom a low kennel

we crawl into and warm each other.

As the fire collapses,

we interleaf,

breathe each other’s warm exhalations,

and would disappear

except for the broad face

of the moon pressed to the window.