On the Cusp

- after Sonia Sanchez, "Poem at Thirty"

I too used to think I liked midnight

for the stories music teachers told me

Three candles guttering down to their hearts

of wax on one end of the piano keyboard

while the composer writes notes 

and staves with feverish ink even as 

the world goes completely dark

Now I like the much smaller hour

in the morning when all who are asleep

are still asleep and all who have gone

into the world have shut the door and left

There is a cardinal out of season in the tree

The fig's branches lean closer to the ground

exhausted from all their summer bearing

My tongue fingers the space where 

a cracked tooth used to be

I thought the potted Buddha's hand citrus

given by a friend had perished in winter

But here it is pushing out its signature

green laddered with fresh new thorns

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