My neighborâ€™s light steps
Through gaps between the boards at night,
And my neighborâ€™s light steps
Drift like leaves among his unguessed furniture.
At sunset, the sun leaks from his room.
We have never spoken through the wall,
Though we have, at other times, spoken,
And we have, at other times, thought
Of each otherâ€™s sleeping.
Male and female,
Twining like butterflies in the space
Of the wallâ€™s other room.
I guess love
And wait ’til their trembling,
And the wallâ€™s trembling, pass.
Then embers of their conversation
Once more permit sleep.
I hear a woman crying.
I think, “There is a woman in my dreams, crying.”
Then I think, “No, I am crying.”
And then another voice says, â€œNo,
That’s real sadness on the other side
Of the wall–not your dreaming.â€
I follow the sounds, but when my eyes open,
They have nowhere to go in the blindfold blackness.
Yet to my ears, the nightingale, a bare-throated woman,
Warbles her sorrows through the wall’s divide.
Patricia Karamesines lives with her family in the Four Corners region of the southwestern U.S. She has won many awards for her poetry, essays, and fiction. She is the author of The Pictograph Murders, a mystery set in the area where she lives. An adjunct English professor for Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah, she teaches English composition but acts at the college mainly as an English tutor, working mostly with the school’s Native American students. She is founding editor of Wilderness Interface Zone and a passionate advocate for the environment of human expression.
Photo of an old door in Dakhla, Egypt via Wikimedia Commons.