This is the hour the troubled man
hears the call of a train looping up a valley
and knows he must leave his home,
and also that he won’t;
the hour the desperate wife
clutches her robe at the neck
and bathes herself in the light of a fridge,
having nowhere else to turn.
The poet looking out her window
at this hour sees she must
resolve her loves once and for all,
but only writes another poem.
Already a big dog lifts its woof into the air.
Something smaller answers: yap yap.
Soon the stars will withdraw one by one,
and milk lighten the coffee, and there won’t
be anything left but ordinary day.
No one would guess not an hour ago
creation lay open like the back of a watch
and an early waker saw it all.
Henry Shukman’s first poetry collection won Book of the Year in the Guardian and Times (London). He lives in New Mexico where he writes for the New York Times and teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts. His novels include The Lost Cit, a New York Times Editor’s Choice.