Where We Might Be Welcome
And I start to think of doors as boundaries, as membranes,
as the places in the walls of cells where there is a keeping out or
places where a man would stand sturdy and helmeted
demanding with a weapon in his hand: who goes there?
And we are made to answer in this ritual of self-identification
the threat now veiled behind the collusion of neighborhood watches,
behind the benign garb of genteel doormen who stand sentry with
jacket, clipboard, phone instead of armor, sign, and spear.
I start to think of doors as keeping in or letting out, each of them
a border where a dog would whimper, scratch, and whine,
tail tucked and then suddenly freed when at last you start for the door,
free the latch, and swing this wall of wood and glass and lock away.
As a line of leaving and arriving, a keeping of this space from that
that marks the moment of change between with you and without.
Or as a place of naming, where all must be identified to peepholes,
windows, intercoms that ask of every man approaching from the street:
who are you, sir? And there we stand, waiting at or in this margin,
made to speak, to name ourselves, to give our given names
before the threshold, the brink of a place
where we might be welcome.
I think of doors as a space of fitting in
keys, turning tumblers: the friction of bolt sliding toward free,
the release of home and welcome, the irony of dead bolts
demanding of their living lords: who goes there?
Or as a space of signs, of demands and declarations:
open or closed, no soliciting, no admittance, employees only,
men, women, please call again, ladies, gentlemen, not an exit,
or, sometimes, welcome.
Or as the keeping of a secret, a hand cupped around an ear,
containing voice within the walls of lobe and drum,
an enclosure that shuts all others out
and leaves us to the privacy of night and morning
when we wake before the world, the world outside of us
and us outside of time's demands, a moment when there is only this:
the curve of your hand, the curve of my ear,
your voice leaning in, saying I love you,
but I know that what you really mean is
you are welcome here.