Against the Fall of Night

I check my watch: at most
half an hour
before it would be rude to knock.

I burst up the basement stairs, then
try the door slowly: humming refrigerator,
modern stove, new tile.
I push my whole torso
into the freezer.

Sweet tea, sweet tea, sweet tea.

I try jumping
from the third stair. On the fourth
I almost break my shin. I sit neatly
in front of the TV and picture Ricky Nelson
leaping the neighbors’ roses
in time for dinner.

This TV shows colors.

I jump every other step
to the attic, force the window
open too fast and crack the glass, thinking
maybe I need to be outside
to get back. Maybe I need to come back
inside from there. Maybe I need to lay
in bed and cover my face with blankets
and believe.

Or maybe it’s the book. I pull Against
the Fall of Night
down and look for a pattern
in first letters, rub my finger
on the title page, Jenna’s
lipstick. Maybe it’s the top of the stairs.
Was she talking about the top of the stairs,
or was it about The Woman
in the riding boots?


I put the book back
and sit on the front lawn.

Assuming I even get back
there again, will Jenna’s parents ever let
her date me? It’s already been months
since Mrs. Miller saw me in the yard,
and I’ve been so quiet, of course.

I don’t care if the Deeds are watching.

I start to cry.

When I pull my face
from my hands, the front door
doesn’t look right, and the porch
has never looked so glorious.

I scramble behind the oak tree, swat
at my eyes.

Mrs. Miller
is in the living room,
talking to Jenna.

Added: April 1, 2013 | Last changed: June 7, 2014