All over Genoa
you see them: windows with open shutters.
Then the illusion shatters.
But that’s not true. You knew
the shutters were merely painted on.
You knew it time and again.
The claim of the painted shutter
that it ever shuts the eye
of the window is an open lie.
You find its shadow-latches strike
the wall at a single angle,
like the stuck hands of a clock.
Who needs to be correct
more often than twice a day?
Who needs real shadow more than play?
Inside the house, an endless
supply of clothes to wash.
On an outer wall it’s fresh
paint hung out to dry–
shirttails flapping on a frieze
unruffled by any breeze,
like the words pinned to this line.
And the foreign word is a lie:
that second “l” in “l’oeil”
which only looks like an “l,” and is silent.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Open Shutters by Mary Jo Salter. Copyright © 2003 by Mary Jo Salter. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.