Night Crawlers

I commend this poem to your attention–by Jackie Oldham, a Baltimore writer.

baltimoreblackwoman

I.

I used to be a Night Crawler:
one of those people
on foot
in the dark,
going somewhere.

Now, I nearly run them down,
barely able to see them
skittering across the street,
in dark clothing,
with only the dancing light
of their sneakers
visible in my headlights—
if I’m lucky—
as I drive across town
on a Sunday night.

I wonder where they could
possibly be going
at this hour—nearly midnight!

At the corner of North and Fulton,
on the unlit side of the street,
I spot a lone woman
walking her dog.

On my side of the street,
a corner lit garishly bright
by a large, portable rectangular
spotlight on the sidewalk,
and, a few feet away,
by a neon-blue police light
flashing atop the streetlamp,
a gaggle of male nightcrawlers
hangs outside The Oxford Tavern,
an improbably British-style building
in the heart of Sandtown,
where the…

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Anniversary

We’ve lived in these bodies so long.
Don’t think about their diminished condition,
the damage gravity has done,
don’t  worry if our legs feel papery.
I like the way they intertwine
on the old blue sheets.
Forget that your beard’s now flecked with white,
that what once seemed merely sun lines
are crow’s feet etched in deep symmetry on my face.
Ignore the muscle cramps that interrupt our play.

Your eyes are the dark eyes
That saw me that first night.
Your right hand is the same one
that brushed against me. You leaned over to
open the car door for me,
spilling me out onto the sidewalk.

I slid out, muttered thanks, goodnight—
Turned at the front steps, perplexed,
went home when I should have turned back to you.

 

Originally published  on March 10, 2017 in  the online ‘zine, Work to A Calm