OVERLOOKING THE BLOCK
On the top step of the ladder
you stand staring across the roofs
of the houses, the tree-tops, over
the barbed-wire garden walls, the dirty
streets thronged with traffic, across
the small yards, their chickens and children
out towards the hill-side where the horizon
balances like a blade between two colours:
one filled with morning and bird-song,
the other with wings.
And the top step of the ladder
assumes your deep breath before
the long dive into the silence of dishes
stacked like headstones in the leaking sink,
the temper of the kitchen table, empty
tea-cups with cold stains in their saucers
and shadows, shadows of names in chairs
where voices once sat whispering
urgent passwords that ring with the fragrance
of moon-flowers, their delicate hands
lent to your loneliness.
But on the top step of the ladder
you still stand staring while the world
slowly ages, green to brown, unclothed softness
to naked cracks of taciturn habit. And cold. Sundown.
Dusty haze dissolving distance. The smell
of hoary smoke in the air.
Out of the empty blue, suddenly,
scraps of ash like black snow float down
slowly into your open hand.