September 13, 2017

A Poem by Sarah Henry: "The View Tax"

Sarah Henry is a former student of two U.S. Poet Laureates at the University of Virginia. Today she lives near Pittsburgh, where her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Poetry Review and The Loyalhanna Review. Farther afield, Sarah's work was published by Soundings East, and The Hollins Critic. Her poems have been included in six recent anthologies. CheapPop and Donut Factory featured her humorous prose.

The View Tax

The leaf peepers arrive each fall
with cameras to capture the view.
In New Hampshire, we pay a view
tax for our properties’ panoramas.

We keep llamas.
I wish a tourist would photograph
me standing with my llama.
This is my happy farm.

I pay for a view
of the Connecticut River.
Even though it’s a mile away
and the charge is unwelcome,
it’s better than living in town,
beside a car dealership
or supermarket. I prefer
a view of my llama
standing in his pen,
beside the barn, framed
by falling maple leaves.

My view costs over two
thousand dollars and my
neighbor’s costs even more.
He doesn’t appreciate
his view because
he’s legally blind.
We have no control over
our views or our taxes.

I don’t see the river
in fall. It’s obscured by
foliage, buses and tourists.
When winter comes,
the trees are bare.
I view the distant
silver thread gleaming
in the white landscape.
It beckons like a mirage
or a McDonald’s.

I pay for the view
and I don’t own it.
It’s a product of the tax office.
A decorative fig leaf has
been coaxed into place
for the common good.

Sarah Henry

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