Sunday, September 22

Catchpenny Road
Summer ends tonight.
Air cuts into our lungs
as frost cuts the field
into flowers. Stars catch
in the pond's dark water
drawing us farther
from the lighted houses.
We catch our arms
in circles round our chests
as if this were protection
against darkness.

Spiked firs border the road.
Behind each one are ghosts
whose names we don't know,
who watch us, who
withhold themselves,
who'd never hurt us.
They come to you in your sleep,
sit in a circle round your bed,
saying the things the living
want to say and can't.
You try to move your head, try
to move into their world of light
where the lace on the child's
white dress burns your skin
like a kiss. But no,
touching their lips to yours,
they go, wordlessly and without cause,
as only the dead might.

Mist spills from the trees
as you talk and we walk
from valley to hill, hill to valley,
till we come to the place
where we left off, unmarked road
crossing itself in the dark.
Blackened by frost, leaves
blow over the pond,
absorbing the water's stain,
sinking toward the stars' reflections.
You kneel, smooth the water
with your hands, and say nothing.
Perfect in their pain,
the dead surround us, holding
stones in their hands like coins.
Money they would lend us.
 - Elizabeth Spires

  • ". . . as I have said often enough, I write for myself in multiplicate,
    a not unfamiliar phenomenon on the horizon of shimmering deserts."
    - Vladimir Nabokov