house-lawn copy
To Do List
by Midge Goldberg

The mud room door latch doesn’t always work.
Old and bronze,
sometimes it sticks,
and you fiddle with it
on your way out.

When the back door opens,
the air pressure
changes, makes the mud room door
open on its own—it floats ajar
till someone comes along
to shut it.
I’ve seen you push it gently closed
with your fingertips.

Other times
it seems to lock itself
and no amount of key-jiggling or curses
unlocks it.
I know that thud on wood, the sigh,
when you finally give up,
go around through the kitchen.

Though you always carry
a Swiss Army knife,
I tell people, you’re ornery,
you like the door like that—
unpredictable as the weather
that broke it,
wore it down,
then slips it open with a breeze.
You’ll never fix it.
I know you.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Living in an old house gave me many opportunities to imagine all the people that had lived in it before, and what it was like to live there in 1880. Was there a road, neighbors? How isolated was it, and how did they live day-to-day? What did they eat? Did they grow all their own food? Where had they come from? There was always a special feeling in that house, and the doors seemed like the magic wardrobe by which I could enter back into those early times.

midge-goldberg red dress summer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Midge Goldberg received the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award for her book Snowman’s Code, and the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Measure, Light, Appalachia, and Poetry Speaks: Who I Am. Her other books include Flume Ride and the children’s book My Best Ever Grandpa. She is a longtime member of the Powow River Poets and has an M.F.A. from the University of New Hampshire. She lives in Chester, New Hampshire, with her family, two cats, and an ever-changing number of chickens. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter @midgegoldberg.