84. That Night: Midnight

Nothing to make
Light: no streetlamps,
Not a car.
Native perfect
Dark of fields and

Grownup breathing,
Steady, rose and fell.
Mama, Dad. Asleep.
Rising now from
Deep inside the house:
A nightshirted
Figure pushed the door.
Its hands pressed palms
Up against the wall.
Felt its way:
Bare toes creaked
The floor. In
Haste, it bumped
A table with its

Stretching out its
Arms. Fingers
Crept the tabletop:
Ball of wadded
Paper. Heap of
Bills. Then–
Pencil!–clasped that
In its hand.

Only by its
Fingers, it slid
To the kitchen.
The stove, stony
Cold. Cold floor
Stuck to soles.
Found the knob.
Twist it: he was

Chickens stirring
Nearby in their
Shed. He crouched
By the stoop. With
Fingernails he
Scraped at the parched
Dirt. Gouging
Out a hole,
Carefully he
Fit the pencil in–
From his pocket
Then laid in
A bullet.
These he buried,
Scooping dirt on
Top. A careful
Grave he made.

Did not shine.
Kneeling there, James
Shivered with relief.
Hugged himself for
Warmth; and stole

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