James C. Henderson
After the job losses and the tears
after debt has drowned us
after lightning has split the sky
and thunder has rattled the window panes
let me sit here, in the quiet, with you.
After the storm has lashed the trees
and the rain has tossed her wild, white hair
over the rooftops
and flowed in torrents down the alley
to make a lake of the road
all I want is this stillness.
Power is out across the neighborhood.
Every window is a blank.
Cars sit marooned in water up to their doors
and no one comes for them.
There is no sound—
not the liquid song of birds
not even the ubiquitous siren of an ambulance.
The earth, swelled with rain, has slowed
fallen back into its normal rotation.
I can feel its tempo in the rhythm of my pulse.
Peonies on the coffee table between us
glow in the dusk. Their white petals
tipped with fire, moist as flesh
perfume the air with fragrance—
and I can feel every movement you make
as you pull your legs under you
lean into the pillows and begin to tell me
about the time when, as a girl
you found yourself alone in a summer field
uncertain and scared.
As you remember then how the fireflies
rose up out of the damp grass
and swirled around you
I feel my life rising around me again
and I am filled with tenderness for the world:
for the silent sparrows huddled in the thicket
for the tattered tangle of leaves strewn
on the lawn, for the broken branches.
After all we’ve been through
after so much trauma and stress
all I want is to sit here with you
as dusk thickens
to follow the unaccompanied melody of your voice
deeper into this emotional dark
where I no longer feel lost or afraid.
James C. Henderson is a graduate of Metropolitan State University in technical communication and holds and MFA from Hamline University. His poems have appeared in several journals including 42opus, Poetry Midwest, the What Light poetry series, and on air at KAXE: Northern Community Radio. Red Bird Chapbooks is set to publish a chapbook of his poetry entitled Chasing Delight, in October 2015. James lives in New Brighton, Minnesota with his lovely wife, Athena.