Little things recall us to earth…
– Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
It’s 4:30 but the sun
is setting. Molly is turning back the clocks,
her sighs chiding me, her delicate fingers warping
the plastic time we bought at Ikea.
I’m in the kitchen with my elbows wilted
across the counter, listening to the radio
when the news comes in: a kid, his body sketched
in 2B pencil beneath a too-small shirt
rode out onto the expressway today
on a secondhand bike.
“It was red,” the anchor said,
referring to the mangled mess of metal,
the swinging pedal parts. Some of his sneaker
was still attached.
“Darling,” Molly calls
from the living room, “Won’t you give me
a hand? This is no small task, you know.”
I tell her that it just isn’t
right. At 3:30, our afternoon
was barely old enough to shave
and now obstinate stars are visible in the East.
“The stars are always there,” she returns. “Maybe
you can’t always see them,
but they’re always there.”
When I go out later in the evening (Molly
forgot to buy milk) the headlamps
are stubborn in my vision.
It’s 6:30 but the lights, in a bristling battalion,
combat long-settled dark, looking like a constellation
about to burst.
But no, it’s 5:30. I haven’t reset
my clock. Tonight, I’ll ask Molly to help with that.
Right now, someone is riding a loping-tired bike
by the curb. I think of the boy
from the news. Maybe this cyclist is out to buy milk,
too. But I’m lying to myself. The outline of a cloud
sighs over the suburb, withering whiteness
collapsing on an ill-formed blue ghost.
I decide I’ll pick up flowers, whatever
is on sale—pink, yellow, white,
artificial petals of dyed daises or lilies. Anything
will do. The gas pedal glides as it sinks.