A Shift in the Attic

James Tate

                   I was swinging on the porch when all of a sudden I fell overand hit the floor. I don't know how it happened, but I stood up andbrushed myself off. I stood there for a minute, dazed, and felt myself all overto see if I was hurt. I seemed to be all right. I tested the swing to seeif it was broken, but it wasn't. Maybe it was an earthquake. I walked intothe kitchen and a teacup fell on my head. I thought that was mightystrange. I swept it up. I went back into the living room and sat downon the couch. I picked up the newspaper and read about a little girl whofell into a hole and was never seen again. It made me sad. How couldthat happen? There's an end to everything. My couch was sagging. I'mgoing to hit the floor, I thought. And then I did. I got up and looked around.This wasn't my house at all. Yes, it was. There was the little penguinon the wall, and the walrus beside him. I recognized everything, downto the little worm on the floor. I moved to the chair beside the windowwhere the light would be better. Now I could see my hand, not that I wantedto. It was all gnarly and grey. The chandelier was shaking. Then suddenly allwas quiet. My hands were glowing and so were my cheeks. I felt healthy andwise. I looked over at the staircase to the attic and there stood a moose.I nearly jumped out of my skin. But the moose was calm, just lookingaround. He walked over to me. There was a bowl of cookies on the tableand I started feeding them to him. He seemed to really like them. Whenthey were all gone, I walked into the kitchen. He followed me. Iopened the refrigerator and grabbed a head of lettuce and started to feedit to him. When that was gone I gave him a bowl of spinach, and so on.We were becoming great friends. Finally, there was a knock on the door.A man stood there and said, 'That's my moose.' I said, 'No, it isn't. It'smy moose.' He was really mad. He said, 'It isn't your moose. It's mine.''I swear it's mine,' I said. And while we were arguing, the moose walked outonto the porch, jumped the rail and was gone, never to be seen again.

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James Tate
University of Massachusetts Amherst

James Tate’s awards included the Pulitzer Prize, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award and the National Book Award. Tate’s latest collection, The Government Lake, is published by Ecco HarperCollins (July 2019).

PN Review 246

March-April 2019


General Editor
Michael Schmidt

Deputy Editor
Andrew Lattimer

Through all its twists and turns, responding to social, technological and cultural change, PN Review has stayed the course. While writers of moment, poets and critics, essayists and memoirists, and of course readers, keep finding their way to the glass house, and people keep throwing stones, it will have a place.

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