When the blue shadow of the elm edges
across the lawn, we head to the woods,
my hand in the hard smoky hand
above me. Sounds of students slide away
as we pass the campus, and the hush
dusk drapes around us, thick and cool.
The last of the day’s wasps lazily rise
from smashed apples that sink in the ground
as the swish of grasshoppers through
high grass gives way to crickets
easing under evening, calling for a mate.
Our way greys down to feeling, muzzy
light furs the edges, we’re lured
by the dark that is not dark,
by the scent of decay, the sense
of a path, the loud hush
of high trees crowded together.
I am thinking of the unseen snails
curled in their coiled beds,
squirrels snuggled in leafy dreys
above us. I don’t think
of what my father is thinking
in this silence that is not silence.
He and I will turn with the woods
at our back like wind, pass through pool
upon pool of streetlight across the campus,
into the house where my mother sleeps
in her high invalid’s bed. He will tuck
me in, leave on one light. Out on the porch,
the smoke from his cigarette will curl
around his yellowed fingers as peepers