"Night Run"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 21 2006 8:59 AM

"Night Run"

Click here to listen to Lynn Emanuel read this poem.

While my mother lies in a hospital room tethered to the earth by the guy wires of two IVs, I run the streets trying to take charge of my left leg which veers lightly outward and to the left: it is a leg lost to first position and part of the general malfunction: the flicker of the mitral valve within the echocardiogram, the scuffed derma that presages the cells' rage, the snare the skin has thrown over me, gristle of the skull more prominent, the hair draining from my head.

The hair draining from my head.
I run the streets at night,
sighs sough through the sieve of me.
My thoughts turn to dry ice.
In my left eye the ghost of a cataract,
Edward Hopper in my right,
his poisonous furnishings.
Where thoughts once were:
an antiseptic smoke.

I run while shutting first one
eye then the other. My left
eye grips, handle by handle,
the objects in their windows,
flowers on the lip of sill.

My right eye wobbles drunkenly.
Rooms close their shutters,
but my right eye is a lamp. Silent
and greedy. The lid drops its curtain,
smothers its sight, so now the left eye
mothers me among the shadows.

So weary with the weight of me
my breath could not, could not,
could not, could not, nor lips,
nor knees. The hard dark
is padlocked with a huge heart
no place to put a key nor lock
nor unlock.

A professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, Lynn Emanuel is working on her fourth book of poems. She served as a judge for the 2004-2005 National Book Awards.