Gladys Henderson

WAITING OUT THE NIGHT

1.
From across the lake, a loon’s call,
one whose measures cut into my futile sleep.
A welcomed guest this evening as my lover soars
away in deep slumber, and I am left alone to face
the midnight arcade, its bolt thrown open
by searing pain, its transmuted outpourings
swimming to the surface, waiting to be caught
in the trap nets of my mind’s theater.  Its skillful
web trolls deep into the stratum of my history,
leaves nothing unearthed.  Haunting images tremor
my body, seize all vestiges of peace.

2.
Whose faces are these that stare up at me in brutal
contempt or surprise, the long line of those who wished
more from me than they received?  They swim with me
across the ciborium of night; their faces taunt me with
their regrets.  Perhaps another reincarnation will provide
the landscape to repair my failures, erase the ghosts
that walk with me now.

3.
No, there is no one to awaken this evening.  No one wishes
to see my wounded palms or broken body, or to hear me recite
the names of those who excoriated my innocence, rented my hope
of salvation to someone who didn’t even want it to begin with.
I wait for the pain to leave, for sleep to break the cycle.  Again
the loon calls, his refrains mend my isolation; at last, I fall free,
and rise with his songs into healing sleep.

GLADYS HENDERSON’s poems are widely published.  She was named the Walt Whitman Birthplace Poet of the Year in 2010, and was chosen Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, 2017-2019.  Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Eclipse of Heaven in 2009.