Midnight by Richard Jackson
for Terri

It’s midnight because the windchimes have replaced
your voice. It’s midnight because the porch chair
rocks as if you’ve just left it. It’s midnight
because the dogs are barking at a raccoon. The moon
begins to limp across the sky. The coyote we saw
chasing those three deer must still be chasing them.
The streetlights shiver behind the branches.
It’s midnight because suddenly there’s this thought
of you that lurks in a distant doorway, a match
someone strikes ominously in the dark, a fear
that has no source and quickly shuts its eyes.
I can hear your name in what the trucks report
from the distant highway. The sky is in rags.
Storms of blackbirds. Sleepwalking stars.
It’s midnight because that thought of you still stands
at the edge of these words like a soldier waiting
for an order, like a hole the unspoken word
drills in his heart. Because it’s midnight,
I turn, terrified at this thought of you, turn
to our room, to you asleep on a sea of nightingales,
to lie beside the midnight of your own troubled
dreams, ashamed for my own foolish fears,
until the dawn shakes the darkness from the wings
of who we are and who we will always be,
until these words, wandering aimlessly, return
like the martin carrying its bright darkness to the feeder.