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Last in before Dark Poem

Last in before Dark Poem By Jason Sommer

Some distance in, a life fills
with people,
despite the early departures—
the childhood friends who must be home
before dark and after a while never
come again,
some of the very old
who were at the gatherings once
or twice, tenderly served and seated
to the side, speaking
their other language sparingly
among themselves—
of those who vanish forever
you may keep a likeness—
but after much coming and going
a life begins to fill,
from the tiny nursery downward—
two figures there, wherever
else they may be,
whose shadows over you
began the night
and day, but now there is
no place for a shadow to fall
that doesn’t have shadows
or people in it.
The eave’s gutter leads the water away
until the flow is too great
and rises and brims over,
pouring down in front of the windows.
Underneath the rain, the rooms
shelter too many in this, the imagined
occasion, everywhere the constant
and occasional loiter together,
near neighbor and honored guest,
each with something particular to do
with you, an old teacher of yours
who was the first to believe in you,
a woman friend of your wife who exasperates
you in just the way your mother
used to and to whom you are drawn,
your four children with their hundred faces,
an array for each encountered
in every room
under a table, in a closet,
behind the drapes,
taking up spaces, secret or ludicrous,
no else could.
Inside a great company
and no one expected,
except perhaps the one
whom it seems urgent,
an emergency, to know.
Somehow a space will be made
for such a one,
and all those milling will stand aside
as if into the room a bride comes.
But soon there seems simply no room
for anybody.
The corridors jam with co-workers,
a few college friends, a second wife,
her relatives, the incidental players
from the third city in your life,
a man from whom you get tickets,
a tennis partner.
For months, even years ahead
the boxes in the calendar
contain these known names,
until everyone else must be turned away
no matter what they might be to you,
what promise they hold.
You no longer look—it’s impossible,
where could you put them?
And daily you may
brush by people who might stir you,
even meeting a few:
a young man on a train with whom
you really talk about the book
that you are reading.
Where would you put him?
There appeared to be a space
on the second floor
but your dentist is in it,
whom you sometimes see socially,
and where would you put a young man?
Does he have your number?
Do you have his?
Even now there is someone at your door.
How much rarer even than one
whose entry
cannot be denied
like an awaited bride,
more than the sweetness of
the new friend just in before dark,
is the sweetness of you, yourself,
moving through your crowded house
in late afternoon
after rain,
whose life will not fill,
who will answer the door
and make room.

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