Morrow Dowdle

Maybe it was the shock

that we’d gotten what we’d paid for.

Thinking the inspections had revealed

all we needed to know about flaws

and weaknesses. How little we knew

until the contract was signed,

when we could really start prying.

A quick fixer-upper turned

top-to-bottom renovation.

The initial demolition the happiest

time, nothing at stake in destroying

what was damaged beyond repair.

Layers of broken linoleum atop

a rotting wood floor, the roof

hardly holding on. Concrete piers

holding up the house’s underbelly

dwindling like hourglass grains.

All the little skeletons hidden

within badly patched drywall:

empty bottles, needles, razor blades,

a child’s crumpled birthday card.

Uncovering the decline

from honest duplex to dive bar,

flop house, low-rent housing.

The last tenant’s psych meds

in the trash out back,

pharmaceutical confetti littering

the bottom of the can. Leaving

them for us, as if he’d known

how every improvement

would set us another step back.

Shoring up the foundation

revealing instability in our own.

Repairing walls showing

how ours were crumbling.

The new metal roof exposing

our own leaks.

Even leveling the yard found us

stumbling on uneven ground,

slumlords to a delusion,

years of gloating over something we had

that no one else could touch, or so we told.

Ignoring what buckled and swayed,

what frayed and grew black mold.

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morrow dowdle’s most recent publication credits include River and South Review, Dandelion Review, Poetry South, and Sunspot Literary Review. she was a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2018. In addition to poetry, she writes graphic novels, including An Unlikely Refugee. she previously attended Emerson College’s MFA program in creative writing and currently works as a physician assistant in mental health.