Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 112 in 2007.
When Harper is at home on her own,
She keeps the light off so it won’t burn out.
It is only switched on for good books and gatherings
of her best friends and their best friends too.
Early in the morning, camping in the country,
the sun burns straight through the day.
Wasted in her sleep, light sets cold
just when she needs a bulb the most.
The trip was planned before him.
Now, after him, she may as well have come.
Before she left,
she unplugged all of her appliances.
[a quirk he witnessed and said he loved]
(in night’s time of siring)
the backdoor, the hall light,
her skitter-scattering of feelings of him ...
unlocked, left on,
Harper–stuck in dark on public land
remembers her youth:
throwing sand back into the ocean
to stop the encroaching waves;
taping fall leaves to their branches
to stem the tide of autumnal colors
piled dead on the sidewalk.
And worst: desperately counting times
at church she crossed herself for prayer
because to her, an accidental odd number
brought the next week under the bright gaze
of God’s piercing realm.
She’d leave in a panic–
is God off or on?
Now, she only has faith in Esther,
the computer, [visibly unplugged] who will know
the time and date exactly – unjudging –
even if it is years until Harper returns
the electricity to her system.