Edgar Kunz: Two Poems
An exclusive excerpt from the poet's new book.
Edgar Kunz's Fixer, from which these poems are drawn, is out from Ecco this summer.
I could hear every bit of laughter passed between the dishwashers of the café I shared a wall with, and one morning, touching that wall, felt it give wetly under my hand. I called my landlord knowing the apartment above me was vacant—a space, I gambled, larger than the one I had, where every piece of furniture touched. He surprised me by saying yes, I could stay there during repairs. I made my calculations. You were giving up your perfectly good spot in Denver. I had a month to convince him to come down on the rent. I moved my bed up but left the rest, which workers covered with a tarp. When the work was done, I went on squatting in those bright upstairs rooms— the windows are unreal, I told you— for weeks, pestering the landlord every few days, going to his house, walking with him in his garden, trying to explain. He relented at last, grumpily, and I moved the rest of my stuff before he could change his mind. You came with everything you owned, and suddenly we lived together. That first morning you noticed a red access ladder I had missed outside the kitchen window. We climbed, one going first, the other handing our coffees up and clambering after, and that high we could see the belltower at Berkeley, eucalyptuses in the hills and traffic careening down Alcatraz, hint of salt on the wind, and though we would leave this place, too, and soon, when the rent, despite our pleading, ratcheted beyond us, if you craned your neck a little, perched delicately in the distance— No fucking way, you said—was the Golden Gate, stitching the city to the headlands looming across the bay, and we were moved to silence by it, gripped by a pure clear idea beyond experience, and stood a long time, touching shoulders, touching knees.
In the new place they slept with the windows open, square-paneled panes that faced a slope of ivy and pine straw and swung cleanly on their hinges, screenless. But it felt as if they lived underground, a burrow across which headlights descending the steep driveway on the wall’s other side swept in the crisp dark, maneuvering the gap between buildings. They were getting away with something, they felt, though he was newly divorced and they were paying heavily for the privilege of this tiny ground-floor studio by the lake. They got to know their neighbors some, were invited over once for pinot and gossip by a woman who’d held on to her apartment, she said, since ’98, outlasting a series of aggrieved landlords who refused repairs, and so heated her few rooms by turning her oven on high and leaving the door open. Mostly, though, they kept to themselves. They were tired, and wary of entanglement. They worked and touched quietly and made reasonable requests. Each morning they took their coffee out to the garden, which did not belong to them. At night, the wheels, which could crush so easily, passed inches from their sleeping heads.
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