THE NIGHT OF THE ROOF

The rain above our antique bed

Starts slowly, tapping like the dead

Who must inhabit houses old as this.

I fumble for my useless glasses

In the bracing country dark,

Surrounded by the spark

Of ghostly pilgrim Calvinists

Assembling in the trendy mists

That swirl around the window pane

In the creaking moral rain.

Why is it that night perturbs?

This is, after all the burbs:

Not some wild and slick tableau

In a limerick by Poe.

But the rain persists,

Pounding now with human wrists,

Pulling at the wooden sashes

In between the lightning flashes.

The ceiling comes alive with clatters

That could only come from satyrs;

Never mind the Methodists:

Baal dances on his fists.

We hug each other between batters,

Realizing that nothing matters:

The soul isn't very acrobatic

When there's something in the attic.

(It's somehow rude to take a breath

When in the room with noisy death.)

With little solace is the dawn

When in seconds we'll be gone?

The rain takes shape upon the ceiling:

The demon is above us now, and kneeling.

The chasm is the gutter surges,

And eternal nothingness emerges.

 

But quickly as it came, it goes;

The spatter on the shingles slows,

And terror, suddenly urbane, 

Gurgles sleekly down the drain,

Luther's sly ventriloquist 

Come to tell us we exist:

More than any argument, such fear

Indicates that w are really here-

The sodden spirit needs a devil

To hint that we are on the level.

Although the room is wreathed in black, 

Sconce and hearth come flooding back,

And early morning in Pound Ridge, 

We hear the humming of the fridge.

 

Pound Ridge

April 23rd, 1994