The Nightjar and the Problem Child
Harriet’s noons came at midnight. She’d had to turn nocturnal just to get sleep.
Outside, in air sharper than a finger snap, an animal stalked shadows,
a dead leaf dropped into the puddled glow-cone of a streetlamp, and somewhere beyond, her son bellowed with rage beyond his eight years.
She went to him, to sing consoling lullabies until her furious dead son was able to get his own brand of sleep for that night.
I walk the sweeping driveway of my family’s country seat under the lined groves of copper beech, running my
warped knuckles over shapes in the bark, imagining there, knotty faces.
Like my forebears, the Twist has come upon me, too.
Arthritis, my inheritance, bunches my hands to claws, my hips squealing, till at last I reach the driveway’s end, and the plot that will be my grave, and womb.
I hope the winters are mild.