Aida Schneider   © 2011 All Rights Reserved

You Can’t Choose Your Place

You can’t choose your place.
Across the street, a dog barks on its own initiative.
A neighbor comes home without a job,
and he leans a sweaty head against his wallpaper and stains it
while his wife moves toward him across the floor.
This is a moment in your world.
The trees up and down the block make decisions,
branching this way and that.
Someone on the state road puts up a sign
advertising something you may or may not need.
The sun moves at its pace.
While you stand at your window, in your inevitable place,
a car whose color you did not pick
passes the house.
You thought that might be the one to stop, idle at the curb.
The light shifts out there like a tide.
Even the suitcases by your door,
the bags on the suddenly unfamiliar rug—
you didn’t pack those, either.


In the Garden of the Presbyterian Historical Society

Three stone men, slightly giant,
stand ankle-deep in a mess of leaves.
Each one is composed of stacked blocks,

the bold seams at the shoulders, the hips—
as if to say: here the terrible gut and heart, the organs of our survival;
above that, the part we devote to Your contemplation;

and this lowest, for standing,
as we must,
on the uneven surface of Your world.


David Harris Ebenbach
Copyright © 2011  

David Harris Ebenbach’s poetry has appeared in, among other places, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Subtropics, and Mudfish. His book of short stories, Between Camelots (University of Pittsburgh Press), won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Ebenbach has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College.

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