“Between Two Darknesses,” a poem by Jed Myers.

“Peace at just a little distance — wouldn’t that be nice?”

Between Two Darknesses

-

I might’ve stayed. And had I

needed less, more satisfied

to spade and spread the irises,

-

to read beside her nights

till she decided time

the lights went out, to wait

-

while want itself was held up

under deep review, who knows,

I might’ve read through Byron,

-

gone on to speckled orchids

on the kitchen sill, evolved

my pickling skills to fennel bulbs,

-

my Deep River Blues to quick

as old blind Watson’s with all

the evenings free to kill picking….

-

She’d watch a British series

in another room. She’d knit,

might listen yet again to Brubeck.

-

Surf her laptop for that French

cable stitch she’d coveted

since the Fremont shop. What is it,

-

need? She needed not

to have it. I bristled, twitched,

unable to dismiss it. How

-

I wished to be more civil,

to find, with age perhaps,

the switch and flick it. Peace

-

at just a little distance — wouldn’t

that be nice? Still I think

the recipes I’d try, the curry

-

laced with my own raised bed’s

capsicum and coriander.

At last the crimson roses

-

in a splash atop the gateway

trellis I’d handcrafted. We

in wrinkled ease and close enough.

-

Beside the hearth the shelves

I’ll never build, filled with books

she might yet read. She still collects

-

her simple scarves, small pearls,

more minimalist black sweaters….

She sips her smidge of dry

-

Bordeaux, lips to sherry glass.

She’s needed less and less,

triumphed in near-emptiness,

-

near-silence, in that house

where I became the fussy guest

she tolerated. What was it,

-

then, at last? How rude

my appetite? I’d press

myself against her in the night,

-

gestures I could not contain

that she could not invite. And who

ended us? I’m the one

-

who flew, left her to her

elegant nest, and lived

long enough to land where I was

-

needed, by need’s touch

blessed — hand that reaches

between two darknesses.

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Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press), and three chapbooks, including Dark’s Channels (Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award). Recent honors include the Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry, The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, and The Tishman Review’s Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize. Recent poems can be found in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, Solstice, and elsewhere. Jed is Poetry Editor for the journal Bracken.