Washington Square Review

Kiki Petrosino


Two Poems by Kiki Petrosino

Monticello House Tour

What they never say is: Jefferson’s still
building. He’s just using clear bricks now
for his turrets & halls, new terraces
to belt his estate in transparent loops
of dug air. After death, it’s so easy
to work. No one sees him go out
from the Residence, his gloves full
of quiet mortar. Jefferson’s coat is narrow
as daybreak. His long sleeves drag in the muck
as he minces his turf. You know the room
you were born in? It’s part of the tour. Hundreds
of rooms unfolding for miles, orchards abloom
in the parlor. Remember that wingchair you loved, the one
with a face like a lion, especially in the dark
of late winter, when Mother sat with you
in her pink gown, humming? As it happens
Jefferson built you that lion. He drew your time
in prudent proportions. You have one job: to fit
the design he keeps spinning. Your whole life is laced
through a ring of similar finds. Just look in the binder.
It’s all Mothers in pink gowns, humming.


The only way is through Old Master
along his row of chinaberries

behind the ruined smokehouse
in unmarked tracts, under field stones

with no carvings, no monuments,
with a few leaves shadowing the mulch

near scattered weeds, in sunken lines
while the sun walks in the day

at the end of the day
in an oval of brushed earth

just as the soft path finishes
under branches

where the dead are always saying
what they always say:

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