Afternoon Poem by Maxine Chernoff

Afternoon



Their shadows carved in snow,
ghosts wander in eternity,
their habit of existence
escaping our cognition
until we surrender
light and location,
dried bark and dead leaves,
decayed in their mystery
no more than summer's
cloth lowered in the garden
with its flowers behind
flowers. Lost on the screen
is the morning he said
this and you that and
the future hummed in bushes
like a slow, windowless fire.
We haunt the world looking
for ourselves, the ones
who know the soft antler buds
of deer. We forget the scene
in the room of the said,
where curtains and bed and light,
latticed as lace, made your face
unfamiliar, mine too shrouded
in layers of hope, which are,
as gauze, a semblance
of our hiding. As we opened
to the other, beyond seasons
and borders, the world,
with everything in place, held
small truths untold by any voice.
A vista and a ledge, custom and dust
of living, spread. Our story obscure,
the room shuttered, the lateness
of the day a tender omen. You
said a word that filled a
momentary gap, lacing the world
in tangled sound and string.

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