A Paper Crown for 236 Farragut Street

by Claire Gallagher

Apartment 204

Dear neighbor, Have you seen the pair nesting your AC unit just right for an egg, sharing in our loose joints, our scrap building melted stucco closest to cliff or crag

To leave a note or toy snake on your mat? We were not watching you behind the fan the baby (dusty, pink) followed the cat to where I read and eat olives from the can

The flock of us, we could not look away For now the breeze shows our warren its love The pools are closed and the grass holds sway Perhaps if I wrote to you of a rock dove

you would be convinced to keep this peace? We continue, scared perhaps, but free. Why cease?

Apartment 203

Heard you caught a mouse, scared quick but free set loose by rain and deferred maintenance so came your ceiling, so came half the tree with apologies for their gracelessness

Would you play for us? Not even at church. 1-800-GOT-JUNK takes the songbooks sprinting across lawn, narrow shoulders lurch clean sneakers dredge the moat around our rook

Though I, too have my unplayed pianos upright, kept warm in mail, attuned to loss Tell me what came before and what follows? To dress for the weather and care for the moss

Leave the rest for your brother, sweep the slate Stay, stay - the blue behind the cloud will wait

Apartment 202

Stubbs, now you are the blue behind the cloud no longer bearing threads, weight, or loose rings The radiator metamorphic, proud mourns your daylight companionship and sings

Where did you leave your metal folding chair? Tell me why you took it inside each night? I liked its company, seeing it there running late, spilling coffee, chasing light

Your chair should have reclined and laughed a slack rioted when you said something funny should have been a quilt draped across the back and the arms should have been stuffed with money

I am sorry I didn’t cook for you On the peanuts, he only took a few

Apartment 104

I was watching your arm when he took them three peanuts meant for squirrels, babies bundled spied the cigarette blooming from its stem the smell of smoke a joke loved and cradled

The downspouts and gutters are full of leaves our windows open, trusting the bird song to cover family plays and dropping eaves catch temperance on the sill to get along

Dark draw curtains across the water mark leave the mothers and their squirrels to break lead tuck your worries in the walls peeling bark sash weights and rail hitting apron at bed

to connect unconcerned by what’s expressed nice to have been your uninvited guest

Apartment 103

Find us atop our stoop uninvited waiting for our glove box benedictions watching you walk together, delighted by how bodies echo dispositions

I could only draw you from a picture though you are as unhurried as the cat I have never had an ear for scripture no matter how many times it’s smoothed flat

A cloudy sky is not unusual but you, consistent as constellations, both console us with figures mutual Which animals and what illustrations?

Cooled by car air it appears in your palm a house with keys and windows to hold calm

Apartment 102

Welcome! You bought a house, windows and keys pressed your hands and left relief in the pew the triggers in the floors, eyes on the trees the motes of dust, now they belong to you

Welcome! Surely you are unsure of what you are not sure of, where it starts and ends who the ghost is and what doors to keep shut how worried to be about making friends

Welcome! I meant to write only to say your voice may fall into the laundry room please don’t worry; we’ll all see it your way beneath your footfall it’s best to assume

stash quarters for calling your mother, pace spiders listen with their legs, model grace

Apartment 101

Spiders could not cross your ceiling, harassed by the thuds, he looked nothing like you do only in ways I could not describe, dashed over under the fence and through the view

The basement is cool in June and July and we keep headphones in after night shift flashlights close, best leaving daylight to spy Are you keeping safe? Do you need a lift?

How terrible that the best things take practice sleep, breath (that machine only needs a shove) Check the dryer wool caught in the lattice they migrate, neighbor, all the things we love

The light is caught where it should be resting Dear neighbor, Have you seen the pair nesting?

Claire Gallagher

Claire Gallagher lives in Chișinău, Moldova with her family.