Originally published in Willow Springs 77
From the author
Notes on “Open Your Windows in Welcome”
I often try to finish people’s stories for them. If my friend is telling me about a strange interaction she had with a supermarket cashier, I’ll interrupt with a million guesses until we’re both exhausted: “Did he try to smell your hair?” “He poked holes in the bread, didn’t he?” “No wait! Did he think you stole something?” When I read poetry, I try to fight against this urge to know before being told, but sometimes I give in, scanning the stanzas for indications of how the poem will end. This isn’t always a bad thing. In my quick scan, I often read a word or a line wrong, and create a new image that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. I started writing “Open Your Windows in Welcome” after misreading ‘spit-shined’ as ‘split-shinned’ in a poem. I found the image of someone or something staggering toward me very unsettling, and I wanted to play with that uneasiness within the poem.
I wrote this poem in early August shortly after moving into a house with people I hardly knew. While August in Florida — with its humidity and its bugs and its burning seatbelt buckles — is already pretty unbearable, it was especially difficult this year because I had to adjust to living in a house where the temperature inside matched the temperature outside. I decided to write a poem rather than complaining to my friends about it, but I’m sure I complained anyway.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
I listen to Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges nearly every time I write. Even if I weren’t a huge fan of this album, which sounds like how I’d imagine a conversation between an extraterrestrial and a Neanderthal might sound, I’d still be impressed by the fact that Stetson recorded it all in one take. I’ve listened to this album so often while writing that my brain now clicks into poetry mode whenever I hear it. It’s fantastic, but I understand it’s not for everyone. When I played New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges for my students during a writing assignment, one student mumbled, “This is what anxiety sounds like.”
The album Romance, Conflict, Adventure by Best Friends Forever is another current favorite. The songs are all about the goofiest kinds of loving. In the song “Eisenhower is the Father,” the band thanks Eisenhower for the interstate highway system because it makes visiting long distance boyfriends easier, and “Ghost Song” is about how much cooler a ghost boyfriend would be compared to a living one. There’s so much joy packed into this thirty-minute album. It makes me want to dance, smooch my partner, and pet a million dogs all at once.