August 15th. We’re a ghost town—just us
And the standoffish widow,
Her jangly terrier and vintage Peugeot.
Haven’t seen them street-side in—how long now?
But at bedtime
I see her television screen flicker
And these sultry nights with windows
Open to whatever is out there
Watching with us, and the neighborhood
Quiet as a grave, I can hear the sound—
One voice quavers, the other threatens.
I can picture my neighbor: spine straight,
Her fingers knit in her lap,
Pooch curled up at her feet . . .
A Western, by the frantic whinnying
And clatter of hooves,
In which Virtue talks back to Villainy,
From a position of weakness
It goes without saying; and her roses
Hold their sweet breath at the window.
—Beverley Bie Brahic
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 1, on page 81
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com