6. Spending The Night

The windowsill in Matt’s room was cut
Deep. Sitting, James fit,
Barefoot, chin to knees.
Matt snored lightly.
His ma’d tucked them in.

The nightshirt James borrowed
Scratched his neck.
It smelled strange;
Gingerly, he sniffed.
Back at home,
He had his wakeful nights.
Difference was,
Riah had kept watch.
From nowhere,
Her shade would cross his door.
Cranky, he’d be fidgeting
With his book, his quilt,
Or cardboard pony,
Tired and vexed.
Moving slow,
So’s not to startle him,
She’d ask nothing.
Only smiled, and said:
Leave it alone.
Then her weightless hands
Would empty his.
Smoothed the sheets–
Leave it alone now, James–
Fingers traced his cheek,
Then her face faded.
He would sleep.

James’ head bobbed,
Popped up. He gazed out.
No clues on the street,
No doctor’s car,
Nor Willie’s dad,
Who picked people up
When they were dead. Most
Dead folks stayed home, though–
Riah would, sure, want
To stay home with him,
Dead or no.
It was me, he thought,
Dug that splinter
From her fingernail–
Her right hand–him careful
With the needle: “It hurt, now?”
She’d said, fine.
He’d succeeded
With that slivered wood.
But there’d risen up,
Beneath his eyes,
A bright bead of her blood.

For tonight,
James settled in the window.
Dad didn’t want to send me,
And he promised
I’ll come home next day.
It was her had forced it, Matt’s
Mom, pulling at James’ arm, saying,
There are things, Tom,
Children should not see.

2 Responses to “6. Spending The Night”

  1. Frances Madeson Says:

    This one’s all about the oracular voice.

  2. sshaver Says:

    Maybe the Oracle is a lone woman on the porch at night?

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