Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Vespertine

by John Sibley Williams

I meant to write about death, only life
came breaking in as usual.
—Virginia Woolf

Within the clink of light bulbs going
dark, just before monsters reemerge
from wherever we keep them & the
prayed-to dissolve like freshwater in
the ocean. Before the bedsheets, wet
with panic, fuse the body to itself &
our dead launch into lesson & want.
Before we writhe, wail, ask for a list
of our sins, somnambulate all over
the house looking for an open door.
A door opens. Before we memorize
night’s music, yield to its rhythm,
sway out over that dreamt sea where
folded paper boats rise & sink like
great vessels. Before shipwrecks,
black rot. & sometimes love & love
& love returned. Love is returned.
Before childhood comes into focus,
grief finds its voice, manhood asks
more questions than it answers, all
our rescinded promises made due.
Within the emptiness, an emptiness.
One moment of sheer terror, before
the world begins.