The countryside scares me
at night, when all I do is wait
for the crack of a twig,
or spasm of leaves,
or single cry in bleak air,
not to wake me
(for I am never asleep in the countryside),
but to jab me again with that white-hot awakeness.
So I moved to the city, instead.
At night, I’d leave the window ajar,
no matter the time of year,
so the sirens, and laughter, and trains, and shouts,
and smashes of glass, and loud songs from cars,
and helicopters circling, and doors slamming too hard,
and nightclubs emptying, and garbage trucks reversing,
could sing promises to me, from just-far-enough away;
you are not alone, they say.
We are here, with you.
But one afternoon, collecting my mail with others in the lobby,
a gust SLAMMED its face against the glass,
shouting something aggressive and unintelligible;
smeared as it left,
leaving us with that unsettling feeling
that we hadn’t seen the last of them.
And, as if word got out, the streets began thinning of souls,
dwindling of errand-runners, happy hours, and dinner-guests.
An unspoken quarantine befell the city;
devoid of people, traffic, and noise.
In our apartment block, we wait, as night rises from the tarmac.
That stillness I’d long-feared, and sought escape from,
holds us hostage like a small settlement lying in wait
of bandits, spotted tearing through nearby towns;
indiscriminate in their chaos,
they were here…
ready to expand within our pregnant emptiness,
and force themselves, screaming, from any crack left unclosed.
It begins with a
in the window-frame,
a whistle through the bars.
Its menacing subtleties come fast
come hard, then soft;
and stalks you from the
By the time we see the trees moving,
it is already done…
SLEDGHAMMERS pound their rubber heads on the walls,
on the windows, and bellow their bloody murder
through and under our buckling doors,
sucking all the air out the room
and throwing up all over you.
The one cowering in the storm.
The one whose scent is on its tongue.
The countryside has come for you.