La auror a somba
Lejan y sinestra
(Dawn was breaking
Distant and sinister)
—Antonio Machado, The Gallows
She’s surprised by the length of this night watch:
Seconds drip like water trying to carve
A canyon where her dreams should live. Slight sounds,
Clicks, never used to scare her. Still awake
They’re all she can think. Her digital clock
Won’t stop ticking. Minutes red in the dark—
The numbers are cruel. She wants to drown
In sheets, to sink, but nervous lifelines shake
Her back. The sky grows gray. She’s overmatched—
Not by terror—nothing hides in the dark—
But fear of morning, of moving, surrounds
Her breath. Eyes open, she sighs and she waits.
* * *
And black stairs,
He stops thinking.
Music cages his animal brain
With precise angles
Of an absolute mathematic.
Time is a thing
That bites then
Signs its name.
At that moment
The existence of God
Is not a question
He can frame.
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty-five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors, will be published by Negative Capability Press later this year, and his novels, The Magic War and Knight Prisoner, will be published in the coming months. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster. Currently he’s seeking gainful employment since poets are born and not paid.