“Humanistic Geography” by Kathleen Rooney, from WHERE ARE THE SNOWS, forthcoming from Texas Review Press on 9/7/22

Another day, another inspirational coffee mug, poured in the kitchen, drunk in the home office: Don’t Forget To Be Awesome. Okay. Working on it.

March was the month that never ended, then it ended. 

Ambivalence is the norm; that hasn’t changed.

Ray Oldenburg pioneered the term “third place.” If home is the first, and work is the second, the third is an informal community spot. Beauty salons and bars, coffee shops and parks. Pubs and cafes. Main streets. The post office.

I go for a walk with my morning shadow. How many places have I got these days?

Where does place end and space begin? A lodge in the wilderness is not the wilderness. 

Every cozy hearth is hurtling through the cosmos.

Space is abstract; place has meaning. Like, that fence wouldn’t matter to me unless you were leaning on it. 

What, do I have to draw you a map? 

In design school, they teach that for something to be significant it needs to exist in Vitruvian Space, centered in the intersection of desirable, feasible, viable. Which sounds even better when you say it in Latin: venustas, utilitas, firmitas.

I’d like to sit on the porch with you and shell peas, but I haven’t got a porch, or peas, or you. 

Cue the sound of windchimes in the breeze.

I’ll never stand in a driveway and hose down a sports car.

Glamour is, by definition, impractical. Could I begin to live with more extraneous detail? Placemats? Fingerbowls? 

I wish we could stay in a hotel by the sea.

From up here on the third floor, it’s easy to tell when the bells of St. Gertrude’s shatter the glass of silence. 

I wish we could prove to God above that we still loved him.

Church is a third place I never show my face in.

✶✶✶✶

Excerpt from Kathleen Rooney’s Where Are The Snows: Poems, used by permission of Texas Review Press.

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Her most recent books include the novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St. Martin’s Press, 2017) and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette and Loulou Magritte (Spork Press, 2018). Her World War I novel Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey was published by Penguin in August, and her criticism appears in The New York Times Magazine, The Poetry Foundation website, The Chicago TribuneThe Brooklyn Rail, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay, and teaches at DePaul University.

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