Somewhere, a dog is barking in the night,
But our house idles still.
Our plastic dumpsters rolled down to the curb,
Some hours ago, they will
Stand stout in their perched state of burdened waiting.
We have some hours to kill.
Our pile this week is bigger than the rest,
Heaped with a rocking horse,
Some outgrown clothes, the spindles of a chair
That came apart, of course,
Just as we started packing: fate, it seems,
Compels us now by force.
Our first night in this house, I came outside
With emptied boxes flat
And saw how much the clarity of stars
Asked to be wondered at.
What luck, I thought, that we had settled in
So graced a habitat.
The stars grow old far slower than we do.
They’ll still be shining down
After I latch this door a final time
And idle with a frown,
Doubting that we have made the proper choice
To leave our house and town.
But now, the hour, suspended, swirls with clouds,
The sky reflecting grey;
The children’s voices clamor in my head,
To unsay all I say,
To call the movers and call off the truck
And tell them that we’ll stay.
What is it makes me disregard those words
And my own aching doubt?
A stubborn heart that, where it ought to yield,
Puts fantasies to rout—
And I, the one who locked the door at night
To shut the darkness out?
—James Matthew Wilson
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 4, on page 57
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