Uninvited Guest

Mid-September. First turn of the maples
like the underside of a kiss. Brush
of an angel’s whisper. Don’t wait

a second longer. Here, in this old house,
light bends a wishbone over the threshold
of a door. Night repeats its failures—

sky punctuated with stars, the comma
of a comet splicing the perfect sentence.
It wasn’t yours: reflection of a woman

walking the cathedral’s sunlit floors.
Someone else is speaking—not
the beloved, for whom Rilke waited

on Prague’s reflected streets,
not the sighing of a window
as you gathered him in your arms—

what, after all, were you thinking?
It comes down to this: even your own
thoughts will betray you. They

were never yours, but the memory
of a collective conscience: hooded
figures on the horizon, Holofernes’s

severed head bleeding in the basket,
as Judith spins her knife to point
the question back at us, the sheath

of history smeared. You watch
the images with less horror than
dumb amazement—the bodies

of a tyrant’s sons sewn back
into a question, implicit and yet
unanswerable. Now someone

in the back row clears his throat,
as a woman in Gaza clears the gravel
from a grave. Husk of memory burning.

Pockets of autumn like signposts
along the highway. And still,
that swath of light above your door,

the guest that entered your blood
uninvited. You, who refused the warm
welcome of wine, even as you poured.