Thursday, June 14, 2007

Suburban compline

These hours are palpable, they are velvet banners
parting in front of you like carwash ribbons,
sluicing in through your car’s open windows,
a languid tide of ink. These hours bear up to you
the somnolent scents of this drowsing town,
an ozone incense of air conditioners,
the breath of plants snoozing in peated gardens,
thick spice of lawns lovingly mowed and seeded
on Sundays before churchtime.
These are anchoritic hours, haunted only by the housecat
stepping from one cool puddle of lamplight
to another, when your headlights distort neighbors’ bushes
into zodiacs and savage topiaries, searching
each parked car you pass for anyone else awake.

In the driveway, with the car switched off,
the quiet rushes in, an orchestral fill of many parts.
From down the street comes the white noise
of sprinklers switching on in succession,
each sweeping a Poisson distribution of dots
etching a deeper, random darkness
into parabolae of sidewalk and street.
The electric sound of sprinkler heads
like battalions of marching feet,
approaching, building, until their carriage returns.

Your car wickers and ticks itself to sleep,
still divesting itself of its highway heat.

The sound of your door closing
sets a dog somewhere to barking, once.

In the mulchy night, rinsed with cricketsound
and manmade rain, you at last take off your shoes,
your socks. You will be the only one all day
to feel how fond this grass is of your naked skin.
You crush the clipped blades, feeling dew
ooze between your toes, as the lush scent of the jungle plants
on neighbor’s porch wells up around you,
winds you in its tender tendrils,
takes you in,
you a wild thing, too.

Mark Aiello