When I close my eyes, they visit, the ones I’ll never
see again by daylight; guilt and regrets also.
This is my sleepless vigil, room to room,
careful not to trip on shadows.
Instead of black night, windows are gray now;
okay, it’s a new day instead of an old night.
Vines have grown against the porch, twisting through
the plants on the ledge. I’ll trim them back.
I’ve bought chicken thighs to cook adobo style.
And broccoli. I’ll cook dinner this afternoon.
Thus, the day.
I toss bills, letters, manuscripts
into the recycling dumpster. Chemicals
will transform them—fresh sheets
someone can draw pictures on.
When you leave the dump, or Transfer
Station, you get the best view of the mountain.
I was a guide at the top until asthma
made the hike to the summit too hard.
The last time, stretched out on a boulder
to get my breath back, I saw vultures
circling above me. I crawled to the trail,
used my inhaler, continued up.
I never learned to whistle with two fingers in my mouth
or blow bubble-gum bubbles or make myself burp
by swallowing air, whatever that is.
Now it’s too late.
Early for my appointment, I have coffee at McDonald’s.
Not as bad as I expected. I’m not the only one sitting here
waiting as minutes drip from the clock.
In the park, a blanket of sunlight up to my chin,
trying to doze but teenagers, blabbering about
their ambitions, keep me awake. “Give up!”
is what I want to tell them. “I don’t care!”
There’s mail in the box: circulars, bills, a magazine,
a card from my cousin—her father,
my favorite uncle, has died.
I used to regret wasted hours, pretending the supply
is endless, marking time until good things
start to happen. a day, a week, a year, or decades later.
Today’s the day to notice we’re running out of decades.
How does anyone survive the night alone?
I know I’m sitting in the dark, listening to nothing.
If I wanted to, I could sing “I love today,
I’m loved tomorrow.”
There’s a time when the night sky changes
from black to blue that’s just as dark
but things in the distance are more distinct
and you see that what you were looking for—
a lover, an answer, a break, or sleep—
is not in this night for you to find.
But no one goes mad in this quarter-hour.
This is the time to rest from your searching,
to buy a cup of coffee and then go home
to lie on your bed and listen
to the people wake who search by day.