November 3, 2012

Sara Pirkle Hughes

“PRETEND YOU DON’T OWE ME A THING”
—after Ai

In such silence even house wrens
are too tired to make love—
summer heat shushes them in their nests.
Who cares about birds when even we

are too tired to make love?
Why think of anything outside this room?
Who cares about birds when even we
push each other away? It’s too late, too hot, we say.

Think of anything outside this room.
Already the postman has risen across town as we
push each other away. It’s too late, too hot. We say
goodnight, turn away, claim our space, fake sleep.

Already the postman has risen across town as we
remember the nightly ritual, the checklist:
Say goodnight. Turn away. Claim your space. Fake sleep.
Whether on fingers, notepads, concrete walls,

we remember the nightly ritual, the checklist—
tally heartaches. Birds once sung below our window.
Whether on fingers, notepads, concrete walls,
all creatures count their sorrows,

tally heartaches. Birds sing below our window.
Summer heat shushes them in their nests.
All creatures count their sorrows
in such silence, especially the wrens.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004