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A Late Apology


It was all ours, we joked.
A shambled, overgrown estate.
Hackberry trees, wisteria like rope,
the carport and the morning gloryŚchoked
old flowerbed. All ours:
wild clumps of poison oak, a lank,
rust-eaten corrugated shed,
shattered and whole clay pots,
an overwhelming, ripe chaos of weeds.
All ours: wood roach and bottle fly,
hornet and wasp, sweat bee,
the blue skinks and the millipedes,
and leering like a wasted, bloodshot eye,
a red-hot marble spider
clenched at the center of her web.
I can't forget, larger than my
two human arms around,
her supple, taut, and silken net,
or how three moist, green mornings in a row
we marveled over everything she caught:
dew-glistened crickets, clumsy moths,
and phosphorescent lightning bugs.
But what I can't remember now
is why or even how
our words that summer's night turned cross.

Dead certain I was right
(though who could say whatever I
was right about?), I slammed
one door. I let another bang behind
then smoldered slightly out of range,
just far enough where I might still hear
a reconciling call.
But no call ever came,
only the minor, iron cries
of passing Alabama trains.
It was a shallow, touchless night of sleep,
troubled by wind outside,
white thunder cracks and hammer-hissing rains,
but when we woke the world was fresh,
cornflower-pale and clear.

That's been nearly a year.
Sometimes I can still see it flutter thereŚ
a tattered, ghostly, broken web
like floss or silver wisps of widow's hair
tickling the morning air
as if it were a thing that might be said
of sorrow or regret.
But standing in that ochre dawn
I chose a different thought instead,
making a vague remark
about the weather's sudden, gorgeous change
and all our gaudy myrtle blooms
that swayed and dandled overhead.


Daniel Anderson

The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel
Johns Hopkins University Press


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