Interview with Molly Spencer about her new book, If the House


Conversation with Lace Thong and Car Keys

She is in the kitchen bent over
In a blue lace thong when he comes
Through the door blows by her forgot my keys he says

She says oh
She is standing up now having found
What she was looking for she forgets now what it was

Down the hall the thunk of a drawer
Opening the broken music of his hands
Running over its contents did you find them

She says yes he says good she says

Blows back through the kitchen
The keys jangle their little found song gotta go
He says bye she says bye

To a door already latched shut she says
To the ringing quiet I guess I’ll get dressed now

It was seam tape she needed no it was
A pair of shears she slides into her jeans then she

Snips the loose thread at the crotch



Conversation with Shower and Vestibule

From his side of the bed he says how do you feel
About the shower she says what do you mean
He says I mean getting in it together conflicted she says

And that is the end
Of that while the rain

Falls no that’s just the sprinkler he says are you asleep
She could answer but she is
Thinking about the last time

They moved together it was years ago now
How the heat bore down like a long dull labor and
The thick air clung wet to her skin and hair

Like regrets he says are you asleep again
She says nothing

Next morning checking realty sites
This one looks good he says

No why because I’ve had enough
Of patched screens and the little gaps

Of roofs at night she says I want a narrow
Empty place made for entering it’s called a vestibule

She says and I will press my hands along its walls
In the dark if I have to

You are not being helpful he says I am
Being honest she says I am looking for a room
To walk away through see this

Tool in my hand see these nails I am driving them in hard
Under my feet as I go



Conversation with Windows and Green

Let’s buy the Cape Cod in town he says she says
Let’s buy the mid-century on the river bluff

It needs too much work he says
She says it understands distances depths he says

What are you talking about the windows
She says the way the light milks in

Thin through the trees and past them
The deep cut which is river

And the cladding around the fireplace
How the rough stones speak

Of the body she says also it’s on the bus line
He shakes his head which is like saying

I will never understand you
She says remember last summer

When we took the kids down
To the river and you

Told them not to go in no he says
She says I do let them go in

Anyway while you stood on the bank
Shaking your head and I went in too

She says I went in so they would know more
Than the shore so they would

Know the green insistent pull of river
Over skin why

Can’t you just be happy he says she says
And also to keep them from drowning


Molly Spencer, If the House © 2019 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Press.


Molly Spencer’s recent poetry has appeared in Blackbird, FIELD, New England Review, Ploughshares, and Prairie Schooner. Her critical writing has appeared in Colorado Review, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review online, and The Rumpus. Her debut poetry collection, If the House, won the 2019 Brittingham Prize judged by Carl Phillips and is available for order here. A second collection, Hinge, won the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition judged by Allison Joseph and is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in Fall 2020. She is a poetry editor at The Rumpus and teaches at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Read reviews of If the House in The Rumpus, LARB’s Marginalia, and Entropy. Listen to a podcast that features a poem from If the House here.


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