The Radiators in Ellen Reed House


have been pushing their ancient water
through these plaster walls


since Robert Frost taught here –
since long before then, probably.


Maybe they churned and hissed
back when the school was Normal


and even back before the other people
these campus buildings are named for were even born.


Maybe this network of copper tubes reaches back down
to the very invention of water.


The vintage pipes and valves are more cantankerous
than the Man Himself allegedly was –


clanking, cranky, clanging
against themselves


heaving tennis balls of steam
through the building’s shrieking arteries


on thousands of April afternoons like this
when one more winter storm takes aim


with its own foul mood,
at the tender, bobbing tulip-heads.

Liz Ahl

Liz Ahl is the author of Talking About the Weather (Seven Kitchens Press 2012), Luck (Pecan Grove Press, 2010), and A Thirst That’s Partly Mine (winner of the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest). Her poems have appeared recently and are forthcoming in MeasureBloomEcotone, and Nimrod. She lives in Holderness, New Hampshire.