Skip to content →

After Philip Johnson’s Glass House

It could be air, a seemingly postless porch on a ridge edge in Connecticut.

Grounded by the too-wide dark brick cylinder within it?

Low clump of cabinets to the left

standing alone, no walls to be attached to. So

freestanding but not free.


As if round-backed, they’re bent against the sky.

With everything exposed, they might find safety only

in that, and in their reddish, homey-colored wood.

But the corners are sharp, right-angled.

There’s no hammer beam or sally in the house.

No gusset needed, balk. If there are sleepers, they’re sunk.

Only the cylinder is curved, only that

having anything to do with what might bend toward imperfection.

Anatolian cuneiforms etched into it? —a cylinder seal to be rolled onto

lake-sized sheets of wax intaglio, a communication thus

entering the mind? But the ancient seals are a little bit

bowed, this isn’t, smokestack shadow cast across the scene—

to scare off anyone who might approach

(as if they’d see it!) a room-sized house hanging in thin air,

banks of lush or leafless wild shrubs all around and down

the great ridge (for Connecticut)

may as well be in it. Trees erase it.

from EffacementFind more by Elizabeth Arnold at the library

Copyright © Elizabeth Arnold
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

Published in Elizabeth Arnold Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.