1. TWO-STORY, STONE AND BRICK, SINGLE-FAMILY DWELLING
If there’s added value in a ceiling fan,
then there must be value in a hawk. They come
for the doves, the ridiculous quail, and quick sparrows
squabbling daily on our neighbor’s lawn,
suddenly plunging from nowhere, suddenly gone—
launched off before my eyes blink open.
And there must be value every time they miss
so plunge becomes pursuit, becomes a game
played out in fan-tailed figure-eights; it’s wild:
your heartsong humming, the sky brighter blue. . .
I know this won’t go into the appraisal—
just bedrooms, baths, etc.; two-car garage.
There isn’t any math that factors this.
No box to check if the front yard comes with a hawk.
2. TOOL SHED, WORKSHOP, FULLY FENCED BACKYARD
Tomatoes can be yellow!
Also small and shaped like ovals! We’re learning things here:
that leaving out a shovel equals rust,
that seeds and dirt can make food out of air,
that carrots follow their own thoughts underground—
they must, or why so many knots and curves
and none of them the same? We’re learning sounds:
how August wind chimes mean a break from heat.
We’re learning smells like rain on dust. It’s too much
to count, to fit inside an estimate.
I’d measure me carrying the baby around
before I went in, verified square feet.
I’d measure me holding up things for him to touch,
saying This is a pine cone, Jameson. This is a leaf.
3. .17 ACRES. CULINARY WATER
Not every decimal point is accurate.
They sometimes miss dimension, overlook
the sweep a peach tree adds to the backyard
just by moving in the wind. . . Imagine it
gone now, downed by a storm. Imagine books
with missing pages . . . you know it’s more than words
that disappear. So don’t discount the tree.
There’s more to calculate than area.
Last summer, for instance, in the kitchen—peaches peeled,
the crust rolled out—who knows what she saw,
exactly, as I stood there making pie?
But she flashed a smile as bright as cinnamon,
and I could tell exactly what she meant. . .
Best one-point-something hours that whole July.
4. 2,140 SQUARE FEET
says nothing at all about the unsquare angles.
The living and dining rooms are heptagons—amazing—
I didn’t even know that was a shape.
You pass between the two through an open arch
but not the kind of arch you see in church,
the kind you find in women: rounded hips,
the small of her back, her somersaulting laugh,
her slow smooth way of coming ’round from sleep.
Upstairs follows the roof line—trapezoids,
odd polygons. Three windows look out
at the mountains—more angles balancing the sky. . .
Once when I was seventeen, the moon
looked close enough to walk to. Right there. Huge. . .
The archway makes me think of that sometimes.
5. JANUARY 26, 2009
Forty-three thousand job cuts in one day,
in just one morning. Thirty thousand more
by late-afternoon. Mine wasn’t one of them.
We’re not part of the millions since last May
who’ve lost their homes—lost porches and front doors,
the mantel ’round their fireplace, the trim
they painted ’round the windows one April:
pale green to go with her flower garden.
Or the place where he first saw her naked.
Or their kids’ favorite hiding closet. All. . .
whatever the details, whatever their plans. . .
How do you fit that in boxes, tape-gun it shut?
I don’t know; the news didn’t answer. Instead they ran
the weather: Cold. Then a story about a duck.
6. 3 BDRM, 2 BA, KITCHEN, FRML DINING
The baby has a bed but likes ours more.
He lets us know it, too. He lets it fly—
like crossing two cats fighting with a war
between accordions—but he is cute, for sure.
And he’d eat everything if he had teeth,
eat all the foods his sister won’t: the fruit,
the eggplant parmesan, whatever’s there;
already he’s reaching like a quick-draw artist.
And here is where he’ll learn to walk, then run,
then go out back in our sun-fat garden. . .
Yes, the house has a crawl space underneath.
Yes, the radiator’s certified. . .
I’m picturing him with his brothers and sister:
all that noisy tangle in the yard.
7. UPGRADES TO THE PROPERTY: N/A
So none of what I’m telling you applies;
it’s all not applicable. I’m not surprised;
it’s just another headline like the rest:
like Economic Crisis Faces Pres.,
like More Firms Pressed to Liquidate,
like Home Sales Sluggish, Price Decay, that’s all.
My cat, for one, could care less. He’s focused
on squirrels: right up the tree trunks, onto limbs.
He’s pretty bad-ass. He’d stretch out on the news,
or credit report and appraisal, and go to sleep. . .
I think that’s worth a note or two, don’t you? . . .
And the grape vines, hawks, the backyard corner
where the swing-chair hides behind camellias? . . .
And how, when it’s still, you can hear the whole house purr?
Rob Carney is the author of three collections—Story Problems (Somondoco, 2011); Weather Report (Somondoco, 2006); and Boasts, Toasts, and Ghosts, winner of the 2002 Pinyon Press National Poetry Book Contest—and two chapbooks, New Fables, Old Songs, winner of the 2002 Dream Horse Press National Chapbook Competition, and This Is One Sexy Planet, winner of the Frank Cat Press Poetry Chapbook Award in 2005. Home Appraisals, a new chapbook, including several poems that first appeared in Sugar House Review, is forthcoming from Plan B Press in fall 2012. He is a Professor of English and Literature at Utah Valley University and lives in Salt Lake City.
About the Sound of Sugar:
We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.