The air smells black, like burnt
matches, like candlewicks.
The moon a polished silver
doorknob. It’s bitter, a chocolate
night. We dance along the street
like fallen leaves. Whispers
spark and snap from hollow trees.
We hear a sound like seeds
snickering in the dry heart
of a gourd, too late sense that some
monstrous thing has taken form
and comes clattering behind.
From dreams I know it: tall,
with gabled shoulders, blood-slick,
too many bones. A belly slack
with need. We’ve hunted up
and down these streets tonight,
filled our bags at bright porches,
doors opened in a burst of light.
Now something hunts for us.
Smoke frosts the moon.
The trees are gallows from which
shadows hang. I turn to run,
feel what might be horns against
my back. May I be faster than
my friends, I pray, may I outstrip
what comes to claim the night.
Let not this darkness take me.
Please, let it take the hindmost.
Susan Rooke is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee who lives in Austin, Texas. She has recent or forthcoming poems in San Pedro River Review, U.S.1 Worksheets, and Texas Poetry Calendar 2014, among other publications. She will soon publish her novel The Space Between, the first of a planned fantasy series.
Accompanying image was borrowed from rgbstock.