The season: a scale we practice
over and over, moving along the keys
until we can play without looking.
Repeat. Set the kettle to boil, button
up the coat, pile another blanket
at the foot of the bed. Darkness
offers us our own relief, lowers the field
behind us and raises our bodies up --
there they are, breathing
beautifully, so like themselves
we can identify every part of us
when we move our hands just lightly.
After midnight, the cat comes in through the bedroom window,
smelling of cold, a little smoke. Night
holds us earlier and earlier
as though we're growing younger
with each turn, becoming those children we were,
put to bed before the evening while starlight
pins itself to the curtain.
The moon folds out of the fog
like a paper snowflake shaken
from its scissored square all at once.
Of course we're waiting for the light,
its return, higher and higher
along the rim of afternoon.
Aren't we? Waiting
through that darker place
where, sleeping, time forgets us --
the way you forget,
playing a song over and over,
that the music is outside of you.
© Esther McPhee