Every So Often

Walking away from the now-closed
and soon-to-be-defunct Ambrosia
where I’ve squandered another night
puzzling through old crosswords
while nursing the same mug of tired
coffee, I stop outside the sleeping
storefront of Tina’s Botanical and study
the lilting pink peonies browning
in white buckets beneath the dangle
of candy-colored suncatchers throwing
at me flashes of my own weary face.
I can’t help but wonder, as I recoil
back into the darkness of my own worn
life, what dying will feel like, if I will
waste away and wilt , and when
my turn will come, and if it will be
sweet and unbearably perfect, like
the sight of these flowers. Hoping
to stumble upon some answer, I take
the long way home, along the curving
cobbled path, past the chapel with its
stained glass façade smoldering
against the gray stone and skeletal
network of scaffolding, through
the shadowy quad where someone is
walking a dog, past the silent fountain
whose glassy surface is speckled
with a trembling splatter of stars.
Outside the music hall I stand in a wash
of yellow light pouring from the half-
opened window and let the chorus
of crickets make more bearable
the waiting. And when finally I hear
the opera student’s voice burst forth from
the practice room, raw tremulous pain
set free into the night, I collapse into
prostration, the dew-glazed grass cold
against my hands and face, and listen
with every ounce of my loneliness
to the merciful churn of her words
cut me open like a cadaver.