“The People Across the Street” by Ted Gilley

Ted Gilley


In the so-called dead of night they shake their lives
into plastic bags and leave the rented house
lying in its lot like a rind—pipes a ward of sore throats,
screen door waving. Their boat they leave to drift in a swirl
of leaves by the garage. The unrolling road begs pardon

for being hard, flakes of light rain down when the stars
say that’s enough and twist the bolts of the night.
The kids sleep in the back, the radio swears by its great-deal gods,
but they miss nothing, these two, neither the funhouse past with its
long face nor the crumpled map of the future

and certainly not the present, flying by the windows…
People like that. Somewhere else, now, opening a bank account,
taking the kids to school, getting jobs, filling the cabinets.
People who once eased a boat out into the cool water of a lake
on a summer morning and let the sun decide

which way they’d go and who vowed, as we all did, once,
to let the water take them back to what was good.
Who promised to give in to what was right and best
and to just walk away from whatever it was
that kept them in their old life.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012

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