Long Night of the Incomplete

In the brief light of the solstice

the wall of ice presses in, inex-

orable glacier, glinting cliffs

casting long blue shadows.

 

The birds are avid at the feeders.

The squirrels jostle them.

A coyote lurked at the foot

of the drive last night, then

 

turned smoke. I try to coax

the cats in before dusk

threatens. Wind whooshes

in the chimney. Flesh

 

does not flourish in such cold.

The death of my mother:

a tooth extracted years ago

yet the tongue still probes.

 

We fence, we fight, we pry,

we protect armored like goalies,

we lie, we promise, we fudge,

we are bribed and coerced.

 

Then one night it stops -

the worn out clock of the heart.

A silence parched and rusty,

a silence hollow and gnarled,

 

metallic, rasps on the mind.

The words that never got spoken,

unasked questions rattle, useless

beads of a broken necklace.

 

It does not come to an end,

this long night of regrets,

this unfinished conversation

dying in the throat like the year.

      from {Tribes Issue 10}

 

Steve Cannon, Marge Piercy, Poetry, Tribes