As a child I loved dark December evenings.
I put out the lights and stared through the slits
in the venetian blinds at the streetlamps’ soft cones.
Sometimes a shivering figure appeared in a beam of light,
lit a cigarette and threw some gravel at a window
that opened to echoing whisperings in the dark.
I put out the lights and lit a candle, held my hand
out past the fluttering halo towards the darkness
and fingered strange chairs and my own strange
body, as if it too were a fragment created by
the dark. My creeping steps measured the room’s
length and breadth, walking shyly
past unrecognisable piles of clothes.
The flame’s greedy mouth sucked oxygen and stearine.
I tormented the flame with a blackened cup,
till it languished to the blue edge of its being.
I lifted the cup from the candle, let the flame drink.
The wall-clock measured the length of the darkness (tick tock).
It ended with the thump of the door and the light bulb’s
glaring light: it’s time to go to the bridge and
peep over the parapet, down at the flowing images.
The television fell silent, the episode ended. A relationship,
mother said, an affair. Now it’s revealed. The wife comes home
from her trip and finds an ear-ring on the bed;
everything’s being weighed, the embezzlements and the betrayals:
the property will be lost, and the family. The light went out,
the shadows on the walls began to breathe evenly.