“I do not know [but] that the devil goes about in my likeness to do any hurt."—Sarah Osborne (1643-1692)
You do not have to be haunted
to forget your boots before
running through television snow,
or become a door blown open
by wind, or shove the ones you love
over the bannister and down
the spiral staircase at midnight.
You do not have to be dead
to summon friends by false names,
luring them to unsound bridges,
or call crows to weave pieces
of another life into nests
of regret that rest gently
on their unsteady heads.
The seasons where we are lost,
trapped deep in the forest
of ourselves while the moon sharpens
its edges, bear counting.
Don’t rely on lessons learned from frost
that beards the trees in winter,
like a veil over the face of God.
This body is your own.
“Darkness, my sole light! Death’s shadows, so clear to me! Take me! Take me to live with you! I am no longer fit to look to gods for help, no, nor mortals neither.” —Ajax, from Ajax by Sophocles
After night sinks into
its private stillness,
and you stand before a mirror
turned the wrong way,
remember that the world, too,
is exhausted, having devoured
everything it could from sky.
You’ll need to look elsewhere
for something to hold you
together, lavender ice cream,
perhaps, or the neighbor’s cat.
Considering how often
we must reinvent ourselves,
how many times we try to speak
the silent language of the Absent,
it’s no wonder we choose to stumble
away from the one story worth telling.
Peter Grandbois is the author of eight previous books, the most recent of
which is This House That (Brighthorse Books, 2017). His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in over one hundred journals. His plays have been performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles, and New York. He is a senior editor at Boulevard magazine and teaches at Denison University in Ohio.