A group of schoolgirls from downstairs laughed,
and then the front door slammed shut.
Maybe the girls went out and took
their humor with them. Crickets
are chirping in the bushes along
the front porch, so maybe the girls stepped
outside and are about to laugh
to scare the crickets off their branches.
Crickets always make the loudest
sound on an early autumn night like tonight.
I will find time on Saturdays to sleep in.
I will be able to lie across my bed
through dawn. I will slip into imaginary
places and misremember that I have been
nowhere else, until I sit up inside
I will find that kind of time again. But
every weekday from today on, I will
wake up in twilight and go downstairs.
The world will illuminate as I sit in my chair.
You don’t burn out your eyes
looking at a star in the middle
of the night. But find it on
a line that lies inside
a constellation, and you’re blind.
“And if you gaze long enough into
an abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.”
I’ve been gazing here for too long a time
to turn my head away, and for too short a time
to match the pair of eyes on the other edge
of the darkness.
It took me until last night
to see how long the shadows cast by
the evergreens along the far side of my lawn
take to reach my front steps.
A wife can outlive her husband,
a husband can outlive their son,
by decades. When the gravedigger
digs their grave and the mason creates
their stone, the mason etches
the husband’s name and dates of birth
and death, the wife’s name under the title,
“His Wife,” and her dates of birth
and death, and the son’s name and
his dates of birth and death.
In advance, a wife can arrange
with the mason to have her name
and date of birth etched on her stone.
So, when the wife dies, the mason
can easily add her date of death on.
Out from my uplifted hand,
I release my contraband of
“This is no time to be making new enemies,”
Voltaire said, reclining in his deathbed,
asked by a priest to renounce Lucifer.
Here, I have to concur.
My books are picked up, one by one. The
librarian mutters thanks without conviction.
Tonight, the pages burn in my neighbors’
lanterns. I will not rise in the morning.
I will be asleep, under the darkness
of my sheets, years after my pages