I think I frightened you this morning,
making tea,
the gray rain falling all around.
(winter descended upon us this year with tepid resignation,
not indignant enough for snow.)
I did not mean to scare you.
I was not aware that I was staring.
…but couldn't you see it?
The perfect synchronicity
of the flames, the heat, the bubbles
twisting, falling in their orbs?
I was mesmerized, for a moment,
and I think you worried then.

(Did you see?)
the specters waiting graciously,
subsisting on shadows?
Night sweat swirled down the drain with
the bath water, and they
peeped and blinked at me from the
fogged artifice of the medicine chest,
left open a crack.
They whispered (prayers for the dead)
from the dark of the closet's depths.
They taunted,
"we have time,
all the time in the world,
lost time,
never searched for,
never missed.
It is never too late."

I think you heard them, too.

Is that why you pressed
the palm of one cool hand to my shoulder?
Is that why you turned on the light over the stove,
devouring my shadows with light?
Did you, fearing them,
encircle my wet shoulders with your
foreign warmth,
kiss a brand against my skin -
a talisman against darkness?

I've never told you.

They live in the promise of the rain against the glass.
They breath in time with the meek, blue flicker of TV
upon a dark wall.
They pause, patiently, in the emptiness of an unfilled page,
the sourness of spoiled milk,
the quiet that invades each night.
They cannot be cast out.
This is not a cancer to be excised and incinerated.
They are with me always,
They write their biographies
against the inside of my wrists,
beneath the heavy fall of my hair.
I nurture them, close to my breast,
with the rasp of an indrawn breath
and the succor of sleep.

They are not demanding.

But they will come, always, with the gray and the cold,
even in summer.
They will whisper, promises, oblivion, salvation to me
even with you beside me.
They will return, forever, again and again,
to take their sacrifice,
covet my brief respite.

I think I frightened you this morning,
making tea,
the gray rain falling all around.
I did not mean to scare you.