The Nights Get Colder

Long day and a tired evening. The moon’s out and bright without a cloud in the sky tonight. I’m reading poetry, putting off writing a letter to my brother, listening to Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic playing Sibelius. I had an idea for something new and original I was going to work on tonight, something goofy and high-concept, like an office comedy about temping for lobbying organizations in D.C. (yes, based on some of my own experiences) filtered through Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos (I said it was goofy, OK, and it’s been a long week and I’ve been feeling like my brain needs some candy), but I don’t have the energy. Put in on the shelf and save it for another time, I suppose.

Here’s some Mark Strand instead. I’ve got maples out back, too, and I think it’s a fine goodnight poem for tonight’s sort of night.

Sleeping with One Eye Open

Unmoved by what the wind does,
The windows
Are not rattled, nor do the various
Areas
Of the house make their usual racket —
Creak at
The joints, trusses and studs.
Instead,
They are still. And the maples,
Able
At times to raise havoc,
Evoke
Not a sound from their branches
Clutches.
It’s my night to be rattled,
Saddled
With spooks. Even the half-moon
(Half man,
Half dark), on the horizon,
Lies on
Its side casting a fishy light
Which alights
On my floor, lavishly lording
Its morbid
Look over me. Oh, I feel dead,
Folded
Away in my blankets for good, and
Forgotten.
My room is clammy and cold,
Moonhandled
And weird. The shivers
Wash over
Me, shaking my bones, my loose ends
Loosen,
And I lie sleeping with one eye open,
Hoping
That nothing, nothing will happen.

(Selected Poems. Knopf, 1996.)

The Nights Get Colder

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