Witching Hour

Three days in a row, I’ve put raw sugar in my oatmeal,
Felt each grain melt on my tongue.
I eat it now in darkness out of a paper cup, moving
Granules with a clear plastic fork. I think about sleep.
About work in the morning. I think about Aaron.
As my eyes close, three bites forgotten by my bed,
Joey calls and this time, I know why.

I think about whether I should clean my room,
Pick chaos off the floor. But the misshapen piles
Reflect my own confusion. As they should.
I do pause, however, to light the candle
Tucked deep inside the hurricane lamp
It reminds me of grayness, the emptiness that comes
With loss of power and loss of courage.
And Joey’s arms in the little black hotel room
Where we hid that night and the next.
From Hurricane Irene.

There is something about candlelight,
A heat beyond its flame. It jumps from each corner
Of my bedroom to the bridge of my nose.
Tonight will be another test. And this time,
I’ll pass in hollow light.

Jennifer van Alstyne has been published in Eunoia Review, Midwest Literary Magazine, The Monmouth Review, Foundling Review, Paper Nautilus and Poetry Quarterly. Her chapbook, Scansioned Music: A Glenn Gould Collection, for which she was the winner of the Jane Freed Grant, is being published by Crossroads in 2013. She is currently the poetry editor for Bombay Gin, the literary journal of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

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