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by john moessner




A wet coat of stain, sticky to the touch, stinks up the entryway

of our rental house. It smells of strangeness, and the reddish brown

is too dark to match the worn wood of the frame. Laser-straight


and level, it sticks to the jamb and squalls through its opening arc.

I want the old door back, the 10,000-day door that opened faithfully

and gently, its ease taken for granted, like a valve of the heart


ushering us through to a body of rooms. I approach the landing

each day with my key outstretched and return to that door

slightly open, still like a broken limb. It kept the world out


until it could no longer brace against the strong desperate shoulder

of a thief. I’d like to think it took more hits than other doors,

that they nearly gave up until it buckled, wooden shards


like loose teeth. New door, what can you give except the toxic scent

permeating the entryway? We unlock the memory of that day

every time we key you and put a shoulder to your struck frame.

John Moessner received his MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2018. He works as a legal writer for an immigration law firm. His poems have appeared or will appear in Arts & Letters, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poet Lore, and River Styx.

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