The basement furnace died at 3AM. The chilly weather of early spring Arrives by degrees inside the house, Like seawater leaking into a hull. We bundle up, treasuring our warmth. By afternoon, the halls have chilled, as wind Whines tunelessly and rattles at the glass. “In Paradisum” from Fauré’s Requiem Chimes down the crooked stairs like lazy stars Revolving overhead, pining away For me, yearning to have me home again, Out there shining in solar Sargassos Or ocean swirls of discarded plastic Gathering in Pacific emptiness. Fresh dust snows on furniture and floor. I breathe The busy air, teeming with life, split by shafts Of sunlight. My voice is dry from all the dust. It’s taken over everything. It coats The meniscus of my glass of water. It’s made of us, our cats and candles— Rumors of how our lives will be consumed— Particles of meteor and pollen, The powder that puddles on the floorboards As nails are hammered into old walls— Iridescent archipelagos of pearl Trailing lagoons of chalk dust in their wakes. Our self-incineration, which hardly hurts, Starts lightning racing into nothingness. I know we’re dust, and stardust too, but more— Phosphorescent dust in oceans of sunlight, Like breaths exhaled, diffusions, traces of song, Engines firing in the voiceless dark.
Ernest Hilbert is the author of Sixty Sonnets, All of You on the Good Earth, Caligulan—selected as the winner of the 2017 Poets’ Prize—and Last One Out. His fifth book, Storm Swimmer, was selected by Rowan Ricardo Phillips as the winner of the 2022 Vassar Miller Prize and will appear in 2023. Visit him at www.ernesthilbert.com.