The Domestic Apologies

By Duncan Parsons

By James Sillett - https://clawmarks.tumblr.com/post/177680914642/james-sillett-goldfish-before-1840-via, Public Domain

Apology to the Fish

If I’d known how poorly I keep fish, I’d never have allowed such a large tank.                                 

Apology to the Dog

You have a dog bed in nearly every room, and I’m not sure what you think we are trying to tell you. I will try to walk you more often, but you’ll only be searching for my wife—giver of treats and scratches.

Apology to the Monarch Caterpillar

You couldn’t have known our porch was so rife with danger for a chrysalis. We planted the milkweed too close to the direct morning sun.

Apology to the Ghosts

When I walked through that cold spot in the living room, I thought you were speaking to me. I stopped to hear it. After all, I can’t know how haunted this home is. There are so many different kinds of ghosts—even the ghosts of emotions. How many spirits do we acknowledge around us, and why are you a cold presence? I want to feel the heat of spirit from the kitchen with its wobbly oven. I want to feel the dusky spirit from the closet and the hum from the bed still unmade but vibrating.

A Question for the Dog

How can you always know exactly when she is coming home?

Apology to the Hummingbirds

Gas-powered sea glass, sharp shards worn to smooth by your speed. I’ve wished too often I could look through you like a spyglass.

Apology to Dust

“Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.”—Nietzsche

Apology to the Mirrors

You have spawned no pronouncements of beauty, and I wonder if we’ve held you back. After all, we don’t ask your gilded, scratched face.

Apology to the Couch

I don’t vacuum you enough, but you hold the strands of hair my wife left there, and she is out of town for a few days.

Apology to Our Clothes

The way we treat you, we don’t deserve your modesty.

A Question for the Leftovers

Do you not learn to love the cold more than the heat you were born into?

Apology to Saplings

She is away and you are thirsty. When I planted you I hadn’t taken into account just how much sun you would gather, and how much water would run away.

Apology to Our Books

I’m unsettled when the house is empty, and I read only small portions of any one of you. I move to another room to read from another book. You are scattered, left open and turned upside down like a chime of wrens, your spines breaking, until the night before she returns.

A Question for the House

With all that electricity in your walls and water running from bathroom to kitchen to drain, with all that gas and light, with all the animals you house and the chemicals you store, is there ever a moment, just a few seconds, where you are completely still?

Apology to Personification

I’ve made you, too, real.

Apology to Socks

Two socks inside out in the corner of the living room, near the reading chair. One sock on the stairs. Two mismatched socks, white, hanging from the bookshelf in the boys’ room. One sock, inexplicably, in the garage, lying next to a box of old CD’s I can’t decide if I’ll ever listen to again. Until she comes home, I’m content with picking you all up only when I’ve decided how to deal with where you’ve been deposited. Until I solve the mystery of why you are there.

Apology to the House

I cannot relieve the sadness of her absence, and so I’m slow to clean. It is darker here when she is gone, perhaps because of the dust and dirt. This isn’t an excuse. The spiders collect in the corners, the dog’s hair beneath the chairs. Burning every light won’t do any good. But I turn each one on anyway, just for a second.


Dustin Parsons is the author of Exploded View: Essays on Fatherhood, with Diagrams. His work has appeared recently in Hotel Amerika, Seneca Review, DIAGRAM, Pleiades, and others. He teaches at the University of Mississippi.

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