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Greg Nicholl
At Night with the Dead


Scent of wildfire and silence
wake me:
the hum of the fridge released; that click,
then nothing.

Wind has set loose the gables --
a wind that carries on it the dead.

Soon the power will surge,
send the clock back
to its flash of midnight

despite the hour
pressed against the house,
its breath against the glass.

In the yard a child crosses the lawn,
cowers beneath the dogwood.

I open the door --
ritual smoke mixed with rain,
incense and burnt cedar.

This is the closest I've come to acceptance.

Tomorrow, I will collect
the severed buds of the iris
three days from blooming,
their sepals folded against the cold.


(Originally published in Harpur Palate, 2009)