During the Open Mic portion of the evening, Margaret Morrill read
I love the element of mystery in this poem, the questions it leaves with us. The cottage is clear in our mind's eye, yet we can't quite comprehend what is happening there. There is a puzzle with missing pieces.
Margaret has packed a tremendous amount into this short poem - as much by what she has not said, as by the specific images she does include. Its intensity is increased by its brevity and spare plain style - to include more "explanation" would have weakened it. The single stanza break allows us time to absorb the surprise.
As the poem ends, it gives the reader a wonderful gift- it opens up to let us "step through the door" to our own reverie - about the life of the poem's narrator who lives in this strange yet comfortable cottage with a "kitchen full of cookie jars" and the unexpected "room without windows." We can't help but ask who are "those passing through" and where will the "waiting boat" take them? The poem also leads us to wonder ("You may have seen it") about doors that lie hidden in the far walls of our own life - and what might happen if we opened one and stepped "into the waiting boat."
Another less literal reading of the poem might be to regard the "cozy cottage" as a metaphor for the mind ("How much time I've spent here"), with its familiar thoughts, ideas, and memories of the people who pass through our lives. The eyes are the "door" to the real world outside of our "interior" selves.
(A footnote: Strangely enough, I have been in a real place where
there is a "far wall" with "a door [that] opens [directly] onto the
sea": On the tiny island of Goree off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, there is a prison
where slaves were held before being shipped off to North or South America - a striking
contrast to the same image in Margaret's poem.)