G. C. Waldrep


Fifth Hour

I want to flee the elegiac but can’t.
Now the asphalt’s ruddy with microscopic
scree from the warehouse walls;
the Hebrew cemetery’s been vandalized again;
even the geese, confused by the doubled
shifting of the seasons, leave their broken
letters strewn across the March sky.
It’s not that the things we love are slipping
from us: of course they are, that’s part
of love’s true inflection, the care
that comes from knowing the inevitability
of loss. Rather it’s the loss itself,
that final compression of fact with meaning.
And the mill is a silent tenement
for rat and pigeons. And the warehouse
is reducing to this thin soil, draining away
into the culverts and the small streams
we paved over. Which is worse: myth
or silence? When they pulled the body
of the spooler’s boy from the Neuse,
the light that fell on his soft eyelids
was newspaper-grey. I keep reminding
myself of that, hacking through the briers
and the deadfalls, my arms ablaze with early
mosquitoes, their pinprick offensives,
my own flesh sublimating into air.