William M. Gottlieb
The Night is a Person
You could think, walking at dusk in the woods,
the light leaking out of the day,
your mind suffused with sudden angers,
as if every branch you see is whipping across your eyes,
as if all the trees are people who had tried to dominate you,
taller, older—that the night is like a person.
He puts the new moon in a slot and wins the stars
and then loses them,
and you have to pay for his passage
through all those hours of air.
He calls you from far away and complains he can't hear you.
He likes to make you stumble, he likes
you looking over your shoulder, wondering what's next.
But the night isn't a person, or at least not that person,
not your father, who has told you once again—
his broken hip mending, his collapsed lung hanging in there,
that damned daughter never calling,
twenty dollars in his bank account until the next Treasury check,
teeth gone, seeing double, tremor worse—
that he couldn't have done it without you,
stopped lying, lived on, lived on as the old man
you love helplessly, like a seed loves ground,
his body, just an hour or so ago, thousands of miles east,
steeped in the black conclusion
that hasn't yet arrived where you live
but definitely will.
Originally appeared in Freshwater.
Are you daffy to have bloomed, to have
appeared down here
under the white birch seeds and clearing sky,
drizzle lifting, cumulus strolling the blue
dilly of a day,
remarkable seconds ticking away
the perfect cloths of your color,
this yellow, these yea-saying petals
as a choir of saints in mild spring sun singing
after a bowed winter of prayer, petals
like a nodding announcement
here in our yard, down the road, news strewn
as widely as wonder—
that the moment is permissible,
fragility the gift,
worth the risk
of dying in a world timed to light?
|William M. Gottlieb is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in health, who lives near The Mountain of Attention Sanctuary of Adidam in northern California. He is the author of Alternative Cures (Rodale, 2000) and co-author of The Calcium Key (Wiley, January 2004) and The Dermadoctor's Skinstruction Manual (Simon & Schuster, March 2005). His poetry has also appeared in Hawaii Review, California Quarterly, Curbside Review, Gin Bender Poetry Review, Dicey Brown, Buckle &, and many other journals.