‘Window No. 1’

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash


Windows have almost
killed me in my life.
There was this 7th floor

window, in an 18th century
building, from which I
could espy Le Sacre Couer.

Though, today I’ll not
share that desperate tale
just yet. Maybe

a year from now.
Maybe never.
But, windows,

they frame up the
sections & the
chapters of our days.


One of my earliest,
notable windows was
in the basement bedroom

I shared with
brother Rick. It opened
to the left, sliding open

with a satisfying ‘chonk!’
Revealing the level grass
of our backyard. In

olden days (my gawd,
I’ve olden days). Way
back in the late 1960s,

our house was one
of the last before the
woods took up.

North of Cincinnati,
before the suburbs bloomed
around us. Cul-de-sacs,

split-level & tri-level homes,
spouting like mushrooms
after night-time rain.


One day, grass & trees.
The next, grimed trucks,
hauling lumber, gravel &

tool-belts. Houses came
in clumps. Much of my
youth, I played in

half-framed houses.
The smell of turned dirt,
the nutty humus of pea-

gravel. And piss in the
still-undone basements.
Where the workers went

to eat their sandwiches &
sip coffee from a pale-green
thermos. Looked like an

artillery shell, if they forgot
it. I’d lean out the wood-framed
windows upstairs. Glassless,

just the smooth-plained
grain of unpainted 2-by-4.
Hands on the sill,

declaiming like a
tinhorn dictator. Or
flinging dirtclods

at my brother. Ducking
down below the frame,
in case he clocked me one.


But before the housing
boom, our house was
last on the street. Before

the tangle of a hundred
homes over the hill out
back. Then, a hundred

more the next year and
the one to come. Where
future friends &

schoolboy crushes
(her name was Ann
Plush) one day appeared,

in door and window
frames. Before then,
my basement bedroom

window looked out on
fields that led on to
woods. Beyond that,

a mile or so and up
a hill—a farm. Nights
in bed, I’d open up the

window while Ricky slept.
Set down my latest Asimov
or Ray Bradbury. Return

to Earth, from Mars or
some other future century


I’d listen in to
conversations of the
far-off cows. Crickets

and the tree frogs.
And—when they awoke
from their long

slumbers—the calliope
chorus of cicadas. Then,
from afar, growing louder,

the hoot and diesel
howl of one long train,
forewarning its passage

through the valley. I’d
listen close, tied up
in cool linen and the

itch of my tan wool
blanket. And leap! Right
out the window.


Flying through the
air, a hobo spirit. Looking
for a ride. Out of town.

Out of a too-noisome
home. Out of the city,
state, the country.

Wherever that
train was dashing,
I was bound. To

whichever grand central
station, where I’d
switch to another.

Have my ticket punched
by a conductor, eyes
shaded by a slouching

hat. Riding on across
oceans and the continents.
Peering out the window

at dark towns. And
cities glowing gold
beneath a starry sky.

On my way to
dawn. Who knows
where else.

douglas john imbrogno | huntington.wv. | oct18.2020


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