Early dark of winter evenings,
anonymous figure buried under layers,
only my eyes exposed to the cold.
Look close enough you can see my soul
in these tiny windows so Shakespeare said.
Walk the neighborhood blocks
& cul-de-sacs. Take any turn
I still find myself here
under streetlights like spotlights,
absorb back into the thick blanket
of shadows. What was hidden
behind swaying summer foliage
is newly exposed between
thin naked branches.
They shiver in the freezing breeze.
Light from square windows,
shimmering portals into other worlds,
lives in progress.
Passerby ghost observes from the sidewalk.
Maybe it’s the warm glow
or the silence of winter air or the perceived
serenity of the scene inside a house,
my mind conjures a narrative
of happiness or love or at least contentment
at least for this glimpse of a moment.
I am aware that somewhere out of frame
a hardship stalks or regret festers,
things that don't cast a shadow
when they perch like a murder
of crows on your shoulders
even when their presence
consumes a room,
sucks out the oxygen & someone
washing dishes in a kitchen
can't breathe but they don’t stop
because they need
to be in control of something
for a fleeting minute despite
the invisible wreckage mounting.
My fellow nightwalkers
can’t see any of this
through my window,
inside the warm inviting glow,
but I don’t know
how to interpret
what I observe
when I glimpse through theirs.
Joseph Kerschbaum’s most recent publications include Mirror Box (Main St Rag Press, 2020) and Distant Shore of a Split Second (Louisiana Literature Press, 2018). Joseph has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Indiana Arts Commission. His work has appeared in journals such as Poetry Distillery, Hamilton Stone Review, Panoply, Flying Island, Ponder Review, Main St. Rag, and The Delinquent. Joseph lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his family.