by Peter Grandbois
There is a prayer that enters every house
Silence wide as rain
as the wind shuts
our eyes again.
Shadows fall straight
through trees and we
become a world
burning in the dark.
Lifted in the curl
of your finger, I
know only the bloom
of being unhomed,
not this sleep-torn wound
not this night of crows
not this absent moon.
What waiting has to teach
I am for you when night
breathes over the tall grass
where we bathed our pure feet.
I am for you when light
fills our mouths with holy
names we scribbled on tongue-
drenched skin. I am for you
the way a hand can look
like so many fingers
singing the fire’s secrets.
I am for you the way
the ocean grows inside
us whenever we lay
down in a field like stars.
“Fuck off!” I shout, throwing my hands in the air as if the bees
could never carry the morning’s profusion of lavender through the open window.
“I don’t know why we married,” you say. “You were different when we married.”
The ceiling fan churns, understanding the need for dust.
“I’ve changed. People change.”
The slanted light of morning was never made of silence
“What about us? The kids?”
but of echoes like a prayer of swallows howling their way home.
“I don’t know.”
The sun’s folded hands open and close, open and close.
“Do you know what it is you want?”
The floorboards creak as I stumble through the half-light on my way to the bathroom too groggy to pay attention to the wind outside, the wind inside, the wind moving through me, the wind whispering
“Not this. Not this. Not this.”
The way light slows as it enters a body,
knowing we are nothing more than cells
dividing, the way sun strikes a dew-soaked
wheat field, each blade glistening until each
exhausts itself with its own solitude,
or the way a child’s hands gather that same
light, as if it knew to shape a window
through which to view the coming dusk that threads
through everything we do, the dusk framing
the door, cutting off the center of all
we knew—you are not who you are—and then
the moon, as if anything can be caught
in this deepening dream, as if we could
travel through feathered night and never change.
Peter Grandbois is the author of seven previous books. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in over seventy journals, including, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Prairie Schooner, and have been shortlisted for both Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize. His plays have been performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles, and New York. He is a senior editor at Boulevard magazine, fiction co-editor at Phantom Drift, and teaches at Denison University in Ohio.