Wednesday, June 3, 2015

From Volume 35: A poem by William Jolliff

William Jolliff


Explanations for the Night



Her doctor, she says, claims he can't do a thing

for her other troubles until she starts to sleep.

Anybody who goes a day or two without it

is likely to forget things, lose things, maybe

even find things that aren't really there.

Just take that prescription, he says, let yourself

get some rest, and your house will quit talking.

His pen ticks like a clock against his clipboard.


Her grandson has stayed two nights to listen.

A lot of things, he says, can make a house talk. 

The furnace coughs before the blower starts

and the ducts crackle when they cool down.

Drafts whisper through the vents if there's wind,

and your darn freezer is a regular church social.

Sometimes, he says, you even leave your TV on.

Maybe, she tells him. Maybe not. But a widow,


at least an old one, doesn't have much to do

at night but worry, and she has lots of things

to wonder about. Sometimes fear's better than

other things it might be—memories have a way

of ganging up on you. And she does not say

that if it's Lowell, coming back or never left,

she mostly wants to hear him, to hear what

he has to say for himself. To tell her why.

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