I'm walking out into the town
I've never visited, down a darkened street
I've traveled all my life. Where lamp lights
burn on one by one, possum skitter out
on cool tar in a night become a blanket of heat
and sound--cicadas, the suffering of crickets,
houses swelled with sleep--a trembling
in and out, child-breath, leaf-shudder.
It is getting late.
And more dangerous. It can't be helped.
Every child knows there are no safe places
any longer. Even here, under the blanket,
in a town I form with every step. With every
breath. I watch the possum, cornered
by my shadow, back up against a wall
and scream like an infant,
then break for shelter.
by Joel B. Peckham, Jr.
originally published in