Naked Windows

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.