The sun going down
and no one here, nothing but
a deflated beach-ball
on the sand, a pair
of tennis shoes near the water-line––
and on the road home,
the dust itself––clouds rising
from cars too far ahead to see.
All the hoverings, the thin reminders.
A screen door springs
against the jamb, the stairs
creak, and they return, brush
against me––a touch
softer than a spider-web
on bare skin. Touch
that doesn’t last––
though I can hear them
in the dark bedroom,
their whispers, their faint breathing
on the pillow
before they sink into silence,
hide their faces
in the mirror––one over another,
decades of them
beneath its icy surface.
Later they’ll emerge
without prompting––the pungent scent
of rosemary, a harp arpeggio––
then just as quickly
slip from a room or through the hedge,
another gray cat that won’t come
Near the window a woodpecker nagging
at deadwood, the kind of cold
out there that darkens needles on
evergreens, makes a ring loose
around a finger,
and at the first hint of dusk, her ritual––
pulling down the shades
as if she could keep out the dark,
keep out the crows circling the trees.
Although the film
has ended, the screen still holds
the image––some splinter in her palm
she can’t extract–– permanent,
she thinks, heart’s tattoo.
Others move out, close the door
behind them, but she stays on
in a house where the staircase
Sometimes she’ll look up
from a book to listen
to the rain chanting––Tibetan monks,
or is it a whale’s song?––
until a wave retreats
and calm fills
the room, like still water in a tidal pool.
Jane O. Wayne’s lives in St. Louis, MO. Her books include The Other Place You Live (Mayapple Press, 2010), From the Night Album (Pecan Grove Press, 2007), A Strange Heart (Helicon Nine Editions, 1996), Looking Both Ways (U. of Missouri Press, 1984).
Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Verse Daily, The American Scholar, The Journal, The Massachusetts Review, Poetry Northwest, The Cincinnati Review, Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.