Mudlark No. 40 (2010)

The Burning Door


Where did the snakes go? I used to see them often
in our garden as I walked out; they always made me jump
and I thanked them for that sudden vivid waking as I stood still
and watched their gleaming skin, as they slid away
or held still to sense me. I haven’t seen them lately
and I haven’t seen the foxes either, who used to live beneath 
our houses. They ventured out at dusk
while we were eating dinner, then roamed all night 
while we watched TV, and slept. I haven’t seen a single fox
since my children moved away. But there are many stray cats
ambushing the birds who might make my garden 
sing in voices I yearn for, and chasing
all the snakes away, and eating up the foxes’ food:
rats and mice and lizards, kitchen scraps and garbage.
I once thought that someday we’d move to the mountains
and live a simple life there; I thought perhaps a mountain stream
would rush beside our bedroom, so through the open window
we could let its steady music carry us just far enough away 
that we could sing back to ourselves, still sleeping 
in our love’s embrace: rapid water, gleaming shallow pools.

Michael Hettich | Mudlark No. 40 (2010)
Contents | The Burning Door V