Joanna KlinkUSAWriting2012
Back
Small City

What should I have given back.
The hours after dinner in the garden, darkness
bending around the clattering of plates.
Or the ease of dropping plans and saying yes,
   let us go. A walk to the tower at midnight
to better view the moon. Time enough to learn
there are friends among you who might become
trusted, who, through the racket of banter,
might also wonder why we are here
and want to press close to the lifting fogs,
the trees that seem to bloom only when we sleep.
You take photographs of the smaller flowers
by the roadside, and when you walk,
walk slowly. Perhaps, like the wooden rains
that drop across this valley, you are drawn to stillness,
or perhaps you are clearing a space inside you,
a floor where everything might spill.
I have tried to be both open and among,
and find myself always moored by inner anchors.
But most hopes are private and flicker between
   burdens one can’t share.
Weather passes through these stone houses
and the clouds above the raised garden-beds
show no hint of any cause. At eight,
the dangling lanterns are lit through the dusk
as if to make you believe it is yours—the tablecloth,
the laughter, the nearby swing and smell of woods.
We river into each other, not understanding
how much debt we owe to those we pass on the street
   or are seated next to at dinner.
If you say The night is a room without enclosure
I will knock at your door. You neighbor the open grasses,
whose emptiness moves like the slightest wind
over the long table where we sat and spoke a few words.
As I stand here, the sky is motionless and given.
Not vast. There are twice the stars.

                                                          for Brian Chikwava