is a faint-breath neighborhood with hearts of late yellow light.
While awake at 3 AM, taking the faithful old dog out into the briskness
to one more time share winter stars just for something to do,
there’s an illuminated window glowing with soft silence
from each and every familiar house, ghost flickers between the trees,
sleeplessness shuffling out from beneath comforters to stoke
and re-stoke the wood-stove’s warmth. The ash pans
fill, and we all bend with accustomed difficulty
to deal with their grey desiccated dust. The residents hereabouts
who moved in during the bright heyday and then chose to remain
have aged beyond the sun’s affectionate count of hours and years—
our needs no longer occupying roles as the careful watchers
of small children riding bikes over the pavement’s
grass-filled cracks splintering throughout the neighborhood.
We are beyond growing tired from building our homes
with bone-grinding work, with do-it-yourself projects
and haggled bargains from yard sales, our treasures
of kitchen gadgets and garage clutter and family room knickknacks
that have become our history. We reset bi-focals on the bridge
of our noses, read and day-nod over books
from the bright-lighted public library, we compare
the aches we’ve earned and the doctor stories
we don’t deserve while meeting on our daily walks.
The cold of early winter laughs and shivers
within us—but we semi-rest assured. The late yellow lights
are a community in the haunted darkness that we cling to
and grapple with, an illumination in the wee hours
we stare into with a contented and dulled effort to see
who will finally tire and turn in, who will smile back at us
from the obituary page of tomorrow’s or the next day’s morning paper,
delivered and devoured at 4 AM, the faithful delivery man
charting his course from dim beacon to dim beacon.
SCOTT HUTCHISON's previous work has appeared in The Southern Review and The Georgia Review. New work is forthcoming in Split Rock Review, Tar River Poetry, and Appalachian Heritage. A collection Moonshine Narratives is slated for publication in fall 2018 with Main Street Rag Publishing.