"Why Do You Stay Up So Late?"
by Marvin Bell
Late at night, I no longer speak for effect.
I speak the truth without the niceties.
I am hundreds of years old but do not know how many hundreds.
The person I was does not know me.
The young poets, with their reenactments of the senses, are asleep.
I am myself asleep at the outer reaches.
I have lain down in the snow without stepping outside.
I am frozen on the white page.
Then it happens, a spark somewhere, a light through the ice.
The snow melts, there appear fields threaded with grain.
The blue moon blue sky returns, that heralded night.
How earthly the convenience of time.
I am possible.
I have in me the last unanswered question.
Yes, there are walls, and water stains on the ceiling.
Yes, there is energy running through the wires.
And yes, I grow colder as I write of the sun rising.
This is not the story, the skin paling and a body folded over a table.
If I die here they will say I died writing.
Never mind the long day that now shrinks backward.
I crumple the light and toss it into the wastebasket.
I pull down the moon and place it in a drawer.
A bitter wind of new winter drags the dew eastward.
I dig in my heels.