All night my neighbor’s windchimes keep me up,
but I would be up anyway. I am
almost
    in love, enjoying the fears
and little jealousies that might
            mean nothing,
like sudden intimacies aboard a train,
where sentimental strangers fall asleep,
heads lolling on your shoulder. When they awake
they are in love with you
            or so unnerved
they blush
        and never look you in the eye.
The hot night makes me think of walking in
the cold down by the river
            where at night,
on long walks that I took to calm myself,
I’d kick coke bottles down the street.
            They’d skip
above the tarmac,
        skitter to a spin,
then stop,
        still whole.
            Sometimes I’d kick them blocks
before the clanking bottle broke, dissolved
to thick green shards that glittered with moonlight,
streetlight, houselight, or even by themselves,
of their own light.
        I loved the shattering
and gloried in the noise it made. But now
I dream of going back to shush that boy.
Be quiet, I’d say. Your neighbors need their sleep.
Be calm, I’d say to that fierce boy, who might
sneak in a neighbor’s yard and break the chimes
that kept him up. Just wait, I’d say. the chimes
are searching for a tune.
        It’s two A.M.
It could be any time. Rain starts, grows stronger.
Or is it bugs against the lighted glass?
They are persistent as drizzle, hitting
with the all-or-nothing authority of rain,
just that haphazard. I don’t trust my own
advice. I lie awake
        and envy how,
after they’d drawn in everything they knew,
ancient cartographers made up the rest
to make the map complete
                and easier
to sell.
    I think that’s what I’ll do—just draw
a river here, a mountain there, a town,
and then go out
        to see how close to right
I’ve come.
    The windchimes tangle with the rain.
The almost music that
        they almost make
stalls on the verge,
        half song,
            half accident.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 8, on page 38
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