Mark Stevick

Waiting Up

There’s a table in the center of the room
and the ceiling is pallid and very close,
there’s the sound of rain and nobody is home,
nobody else to help hold up the house.

There’s a black lacquer table and it’s holding
a candle that stands beyond the windowpane,
its fire is polished brass and barely moving
and the midnight sitting room is dark as rain.

Upstairs the air is dark but the bed is made,
there’s a book somewhere I haven’t been reading,
downstairs the bookshelves have been newly arranged
and the black lacquer tabletop is peeling.

Wax has been dulling the brass candlestick
and the edges of the flower are folded.
Although the sharp edges of the flame reflect
in the picture frame the faces are clouded.

All the room’s dark furnishings conserve their strength;
the black table bears what I need to survive-
the taper, the portrait, and the hyacinth.
When I get up, all the windows throw their knives.

Mark Stevick teaches creative writing at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and he lives in Salem.