Lawrence Raab

The Summer House
August 9, 2013 Raab Lawrence

The Summer House


I let the envelope fall to the floor unopened,

and yes, it felt falsely dramatic, even if she

was no longer there to point that out.  Let me

go back and set the scene: mid-afternoon,


too early for a drink but a reasonable time

to start thinking about one.  In the kitchen:

a plain white envelope propped against

the salt shaker.  I won’t pretend to be surprised.


I watch it for a while, then flick it onto the floor

and nudge it under that ugly bird’s-eye

maple cabinet of mismatched dishes, way back

where it might easily be overlooked when the house


is cleaned.  Some day you may find yourself

living here for a month in the summer,

and one afternoon the clear light from the water,

which I remember so fondly, will touch an edge


of that envelope as you sit by the window.  Of course

you’ll kneel down to pull it out.  And yet

you hesitate.  Why not open it?

It’s as much yours as anyone’s now.

Lawrence Raab is the author of ten books of poems, including Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts (Tupelo, 2015), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and named one of the Ten Best Poetry Books of 2015 by The New York Times, and What We Don’t Know About Each Other (Penguin, 1993), a winner of the National Poetry Series and a finalist for the 1993 National Book Award. His latest collection is April at the Ruins (Tupelo, 2022). Why Don’t We Say What We Mean?, essays about poetry, appeared in 2016. He is the Harry C. Payne Professor of Poetry Emeritus at Williams College.