Hyacinths (for J)

by Ella Risbridger

The hyacinths called me, and I came. The softness of
their dying hurt my hands, and the garden was
all new, at midnight,
the dragons with their stone teeth
watched me through the kitchen window,
folding shrouds for flowers
in sleep-fat fingers. All quiet on the Western Front, three
flights of stairs and still they didn’t wake,
a man on the road, time, gentlemen, time,
time,
time. The kitchen clock sings the hours till the end.

Child, lay your ghosts to rest: the phone at midnight need not
mean a death, and no bats will make their nests in your long hair.
The man in the moon will stay his hand, his crater-eyes and silver knives
sky high, and the voices of the spiders are quiet in the night,
and this above all: that leaving need not
mean the end.

Dry your eyes, child: ignore your nightmares, the temple is
long fallen, the idols long destroyed, the world you made
is fading. Listen here:
listen to the whiskey voices down the line, and dream
good dreams.

Go back to bed.

Time, child, time.

Downstairs, the moon on the kitchen bin makes
a mausoleum, the bread crumbs,
apple peel,
the sweetness lingers.

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