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(Honorable Mention, Comstock Review 1999)

The house is dark. Its floors collect
all those autumns. Leaves in the stairwell,
buckeyes, shells of seeds, the dry scat
of foxes, coons. Chipmunks rattle
inside the hollow walls. Lights of passing cars
cast blue ghosts across littered shelves.
Your voice lies broken by the door.

Hollow of bone and swift of sight,
exhausted by stars' faint trail
I gather twigs, come in your window
with bits of grass, the glitter
of a dropped ribbon, the silver trail
of a slug. Through shadeless glass
the moon leers. And I am home.

Here among rotten leaves
and faint echoes of piss,
I recognize myself. How I was.
How I was silent, how silence
became the way we spoke, how anger
lay like dust in corners, how futility
gathered beneath the bed, and how I lost
the syllables of words.

Resting in your ruined easy chair
I forgive you nothing.
This is the language of joy
gleaming among the litter;
this is the voice of the lost
returned, and mine
a flame among the syllables.
This is the language
I carry out my last window
into the shivering dawn.

      — Sharon Kourous