Matinee in Winter
Rochelle Nameroff

These days you walk down the street,
slitting your eyes at the streetlamps
and their circles of warning.

They go on earlier each day, vacant clocks
timed to the sun's disappearance,
pulled from themselves into a colder

form of night. The light
that filters through their rims
is like the glow in a late matinee

where only a scattering fill the dark.
You sit there alone while they enter
one by one, though you dare not

look at them, bodies huge along the periphery.
You feel them behind you, slightly near you,
a violation, a note too high for the ear.

They are too lonely to greet.
Too angry to love.
Are you one of them? Notice

how you sit here now, first stiff
and then small, your body trying to hide
what it shares with the dark

inside its ragged blue coat.
Membranes are no good anymore.
Sometimes the self is enough,

if you recognize its boundaries,
if you stay there. This wrapping
around the body wants to care for us,

wants to give back the warmth tossed away.
When you reach into the pocket's wool pouch,
you assume a world of protection,

a miniature blaze. When you look up
at the screen as the curtain pulls away
you expect to be led out of darkness.

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night street