Chittering cricket in the city, wake
the sleeper —eyes agog, double take;
thunder rumbling the apartment above,
rhythms and rapid moans of fumbling love.
An ashtray smouldering on the night-stand,
he takes a cigarette in trembling hand
and tries to think of nothing, traffic lights
flashing dim through the window, up the heights
and rain falling in crackling snake whispers
while he thumbs his lighter —the switch hiss-purrs
and fire flashes, a tantalizing tongue;
a drag of the cigarette, his head hung
with heavy thoughts, shadows, old memories
from a former life while the ember flees
from the last bit of cigarette, his face
veiled, the light gone out from that lonely place.
The cricket chirps. A question? Or a plea?
He does not answer it, but silently
stares toward a photo that is face-down
of a woman with curly hair, a crown
like sunlight itself, now his world but noir,
that woman gone. Somewhere else. Somewhere far.
The climax above gives way to silence —
he feels the throb of emptiness, the sense
that Afterlove is like afterlife: death.
It settles in. He breathes black plumes of breath.
The Afterlove is like the afterlife: unknown
as he listens to a cricket, alone.
The carts rumble and creak, the train slowing
as it passes through the black hills, going
toward the city, and beyond the hills;
lightning flashes as she awakes; she feels
alone, the man beside her a stranger
in her bed, the wedding ring a change her
head accepted, but not her heart —awake
in the insomniac country, no break
from day to day, but at night the disguise
slips off and she goes to the window, eyes
seeking the highway and that haunting hint
of what could be, what was, of what he meant
when he sent that anonymous letter
that was blank, unmarked, as if to get her
to fill it with the words she wanted said,
but which, like the wind, could never be read
except with searching fingers —now the train
rattles in the black breast of the hills, rain
falling somewhere faraway, on dark glass
like the pane before her as the nights pass
to a cricket chorus among the woods
while dreamers lay beneath nocturnal hoods.
The man exhales, and rolls to his side,
but does not wake, reaching for his new bride,
clutching her vacancy; her depression;
it has been weeks since their last love session
and gloom brings rain, at last, to the window —
trickling and salty, sparkling in the glow
of passing headlights along the highway
while she wonders whether or not to stay.
Her heart hitchhikes from car to truck to car,
riding the rainy road, traveling far
out to the city, to the heights and lights
while she stays here for these Afterlove nights