September Night

by Donald Britton

Donald BrittonAutumn

for Seema Kirmani

Nothing told us it would work out
This way, that nothing
Stays put in the drawer of itself.

Down by the watering can
A squirrel is belief, whatever
He is thinking. And again, and at

The water's edge, and for a long time
After summer vacation
Pieces of the wreck stabbed the shore
Whose revenue of loss engorged
The ribboned cone of a shell
And played the ear its thousand phrases.

But the foreseeable future ended
And we are falling backwards
Into the view from here that is too bashful
To be looked at or taken from a pocket
Ingenious as the heart's restive
Knowledge of the back of your head.
Where were we when a slab of morning
Overturned the previous day's verdict
Now placed in the evidence against us?

I'm still thinking, the kite that that
Vertebra of clouds is the tail of,
Lifting me up like a number
Carried to the top of a column of figures
Sheerly by the logic of it
As a last-gasp oompah note drains
The afternoon of resourcefulness
And fear. The cloned minutes pass,
Each resembling the original
In everything except
Not having been predicated on prior
Misgivings, merely beguiled
Out of the need of space to put
Some distance between it
And the people who remained behind
After departing. Theirs is the sum
To be added up, once the
Indecipherable messages delivered today
Become the sign of how much
Waits to be said, in buildings
That are torn down and built again
And condemned, then raised by night.
And every flaw is equalized.

Last updated September 27, 2022