For centuries before my childhood slumber parties—
hours of secret entertainment, whole scenes,
built mostly of barking dogs, enacted by fingers
and flashlight—my land has known the play
of light and shadow. (Over lifetimes, I have hidden
between screen and oil lamp, punched holes
in clear lines for entertainment and worship.
My fingers remember dusk to dawn dancing
with deer-hide.) I remember this
in our midnight conversations. In the safety
of starlight, as we talk of pirates and partners,
birth and its opposites, your smile becomes a child’s
mischief, your eyebrows tell stories. You are light
and shadow, walking in, fading out, the illusion
of distance. In these midnights, we allow ourselves
to be seen, the way children do, more aware
of form on faraway wall than hand sliding
from dog to deer, more aware of size than nearness.
Like all games, this has rules and cautions. I am learning
lamplight, choosing focus, watching silhouettes merge
in their slowness, their oldness. Soon, the sun
will rise and these shadows will retire
into their secret boxes. Until then, my hands
cup the flame. We work at staying whole.