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You can no longer ignore the creaks,
The almost imperceptible slant of the floor,
The windowframe slipping out of plumb
Into a jam of glass.
The reports of your ears, your eyes, your subtle toes
Must finally penetrate the frontiers of your perception.

Mentally you codify remedies:
A clever wedge, a jackstand of silver steel,
Perhaps, at worst, professional repair.
But outside the clouds are scouring the hills
And the rain nails the roof like buckshot.

So you say:
Let us make tea and cocoa
And, from the featherbed, through the window,
Watch the passersby making their desperate journeys
Hunched against the rain.

Though a mistress of delay,
You must finally inspect the underpinnings
Of your warm, cozy pocket.

Your column of easy remedies disintegrates
Like the riddled joists
Into which you thrust your hesitant probe.
Under the glossy floorboards —
Millimeters beneath your bare, safe feet —
Swarm implacable fists of insects
Whose life must undermine yours.

Rot below the bedstead,
Sightless grubs in weakened studs,
Your stored treasures rust freckled.
Your door no longer separates out from in.

So you think:
I have survived in the wild open.
I have sheltered beneath random foliage.
I have found arms and mouths enough
To overmaster the cold.

Yet you find, as you hunch against the rain,
Among the passersby,
That you have lost your faith in roofs.

And now, alone, the devastation overtakes you:
You want to ally yourself with the ravenous animal energy
That surrounds you.

But the sky is starless
The trees are bare
And the nightbirds have forgotten your name.

      — Bill Erdman