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FOUR WAY BOOKS: Jeffrey Harrison, Incomplete Knowledge
Four Way Books
Incomplete Knowledge
by Jeffrey Harrison

ISBN: 1-884800-73-4
paper, 77 pages, $14.95

Right away the ill omens begin:
the seller’s lawyer has a blood-stained eye.
Then a drunk driver knocks the mailbox down,
and I kill a snake in the basement,
its mottled body writhing on the slab.
All before we’ve even moved in.

Is this an initiation? We try to dispel any evil
by sprinkling kosher salt in all the corners,
then set to work to make the house
our own. All the old knob-and-tube wiring
is ripped out of the horsehair walls
and replaced with virgin Romex.

I spackle and repaint, bash my knuckles
lugging boxes in, struggle with molly
and toggle bolts, and pinch my thumb with pliers,
raising a blister as dark as a Concord grape.
The plumber gets our one toilet running
but warns, “She’s going to sweat like a pig.”

The house doesn’t begin to feel like ours
until we’re making love in it, on this bed
we had to dismantle to get upstairs,
and under this roof that needs repairs.
We’re trying not to think about that now,
making sure instead that this is good

for both of us, making it last,
tasting the wet salt on each other’s skin,
here among these boxes stacked
like sandbags against disaster or attack,
until these walls I’ve patched
absorb our cries and take us in.