The young woman climbs a ladder into the loft’s darkness.
Nothing is said, but you are expected to follow.
You hold your breath; hear her blouse buttons loosed.
Late summer afternoon light slants through hay dust.
In time nails work their way out of the wood,
Rust replaces the gleam of their hammered heads.
In the side yard her father argues with the farrier,
Her mother kicks open the screen door, says coffee’s ready.
With little to go on, without further ado, you exhale.
To think, I look up slightly to the left and off:
There where contradictions remain unreconciled,
A provenance of ghosts,
A haze I call the distant ochers.
I reside in thought and thought is residue—
How once, for instance, I heard among
Many children crying, my own child’s cry,
And I could not reach her.
The fact it was a dream did not matter.
Shame—dormant, sequestered in the cells—
Uncoiled and re-emerged, multiplied.
Eric Pankey is the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University. His twelfth collection of poems, Augury, is due out this fall from Milkweed Editions.