compline: night prayer

by James Esch

listen to the flow:
parish church bells in town,
car swirls, voices in the street,
September crickets clinging,
lamp lights in living rooms
diffused behind curtains,
distant firecrackers,
hidden car squeals,
crickets quieter than August,
when cicadas pepper sprayed the night.

the ceiling fan whirls slower
cosine with the crickets
seeping in and out
a high tremolo shimmer
skims the surface
each car a raft floating,
door shut, ignition and farewells
accelerating and gone,
leaving a wake of chatter,
the edge of night.

the bells: unquiet stupor,
trough of a wave
vigils from open windows,
the ringing drifts
yet acorns keep dropping
plunk the car hoods
they crack under the feet
of drunk girls giddy down below,
their lit cigarettes
paddling the night.

behind, the gunning engines
of late model cars
listen now,
be patient;
time stretches
like a rubber band,
indian summer a drawn bow
as taut as it gets;
let it twang still
one more night.

James Esch teaches writing and literature at Widener University. His recent work has appeared in Willows Wept Review, Mississippi Crow, Mad Swirl, juked, Cezanne’s Carrot, The Quiet Feather, and Idlewheel. He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Back to Issue Five: Fall 2009