July 2004
Materials:  silence
Jessie stopped by last night to keep me company,
then fell asleep on the couch, poor thing.

I swept and straightened, quiet as I could,
closing doors in my peculiar way:
fast to keep them from squeaking, and then (at the last moment)
twisting the knob so the latch just misses the frame,
and releasing it gently to catch, inaudible.

It's an art;

a pas de deux I practice many nights
when you're upstairs, dreaming.

I hate the long oppressive silence of these summer days,
the hundred sounds of your absence:
you, not singing;
your chair, not squeaking;
the mute floorboards, faucet, stairs.

But more, I hate the silence at two a.m. that should be there but isn't,
muffled by doors closed with abandon
and dishes clattering in the sink.

So the next time you're away I think I'll have friends over,
just to sleep:
a couple in the living room, one by the television
maybe one on the kitchen counter
or a few end-to-end in the hall.

Then every night I'll tiptoe around the house,
dancing with the doors
and pretending that it's you I'm not waking—

enjoying, in that moment each lock engages,
a comforting silence; a silence we share.
-- July 2004, February 2009