Nightwork on the Side

Slack and unfastened—he must’ve
always had that keen and carnal relish
to carry his bone-hollow candles
burning through the night.
                  He walked in late, a sandman
as quiet as the last astronomer to leave

with a touch like snowflakes falling on skylight glass.

The smallest sound could be fire in my hand
held over the air of open windows, a linear ring
of night freights—

iron bells, the moon rose full,
we washed the ersatz heavens of ten million holes,
a vault of immortals that fade and set
in the morning star cloud gate
of the Dreamland Motel.

                  September will come
                  when oil smolders on engine-blocks,
                  the Queen Ann’s Lace will overcome
                  articulate blue Chicory clawing in the ditch-sides,
                  the fading green of tired chlorophyll.

But to hold this was the best memory of all
(I nuzzled the furrows of succulent August corn)
—how we’d gone to paint the simulacrum skies
Wyoming, and I can only remember your dome,
                  gone up the hill
from beside the southern road.

—Douglas Fowler, McDonald, OH