- Indirect Light
i.m. Kathleen Roche (1982-2018)
God of all comfort, closeyour hand over the tract houses of Livingston—lay shadow on the subdividedland of Christmas lights and cul-de-sacsand minivans—withdrawthe mortar from the bricks that bind the staggeredtownhomes and crackedchimneys over white-trimmed condominiums—swallow the mailboxesdown into the loam beneath each quarter-acrelawn—pull back the plotsof mulch and patchwork sod until they spilllike sewage through the streetsand brim the tunnels under Morristown, SouthOrange, and East Hanover—strengthen the cold, crooked bones that moldthe undertaker's gloveas his fingers smooth the satin lining of the pillowsin the caskets where the deadlay faded as old rugs—soften the rocks lodgedin the subsoil for the digger's [End Page 16] dented spade—brighten the headlightson the hearses as they benddown turnpike exits, leading another muteprocession to the cemetery'srusted fleurs-de-lis—ice the puckeredcalla lily petals in greensympathy bouquets, raised so they glintlike winter trumpetsin the echo of no sound— as freezing rainrests on the headstonesand snow falls underground— [End Page 17]
Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award and a selection for the PSA's New American Poets Series (chosen by Ilya Kaminsky). Black is a 2019 NEA Creative Writing Fellow, and his recent poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Believer, and The Paris Review. He is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at the University of San Diego.