The November light of the late afternoon
Coming in through the window,
I get through some of his sonnets and Lycidas.
It is Sunday, and I’m reading
To get ahead, but the text is getting hard to see,
So I stop to look up. It is dark,
As if someone just tamped some tobacco
Into the hole in the pipe that is this world.
It would be too easy to make a joke
About Milton’s blindness now,
As I put the book on the floor,
Stand up, and step towards the window.
Nobody is outside. Even the dog
That was there this morning, barking
So that it was difficult to read,
Is gone. His bark is now only
The hollow echo of how I remember it,
Like how my father, though he
Passed away from esophageal cancer
Five years ago last week,
Still scolds me in a faint, dry voice
When I spend too much time reading alone
Instead of doing things with my mother.
She is lying in her bedroom, watching Law and Order.
We don’t talk much. We never have,
But there is a distance between us now
Like the gap between the promontories
Over the river in the middle of town
Where the bridge between them collapsed
In the flood last summer.
The night seems motionless,
Like when I forget sometimes that he is gone
And think he’ll be home after he finishes tilling
His small garden at grandpa’s farm,
And then I realize that’s wrong
Because you don’t till in November,
And then I remember that that’s not the reason.
Hands on the windowsill, I lean
Towards the darkness.
The demonic Law and Order chimes ring
Through the walls, and I see
Satan across the street, walking, head down.
He looks lonely too.
Samuel Hovda is an undergraduate at Winona State University studying Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in Poetry Quarterly, Midwest Literary Magazine, and the bad futurist. He was a finalist for the 2011 Rebecca Lard Award for Poetry.