“Quarter-to-Nine” by Stuart Friebert

Stuart Friebert


Close as you can get without touching lips.
You keep blinking, shadows cross my face.
We’re trying silence for a change, words
of late trouble us. Oh, we’ve tried crying,
shouting, laughing, and once you clapped
your hands for an hour, while I tapped my
heel on the floor. Got us a good night’s
sleep, though we woke up exhausted, like
nihilists who love beauty. Are we quits?
you seemed to be saying with those eyes,
while all I could dream of was the place
they carry you to at the end of the field.

Tomorrow, we might try a few phrases again
—When will all this stop? Dear God, why?
But all this is as wished, and will be till
we’re very ill, with nothing ahead but old
blind faith. Come here, will you? you shout
from the hall. I push up out of my La-Z-boy
and pad out to find you. Look, the wind-up
clock’s stopped at 3:15, just about the same
thing, you say at last, and open your fist
on the key I thought lost. Give it a wind!

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004

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