Back to Issue Forty-Five

Six Square Blocks



Midnight. I take my last breath. Then—how it is—another—

Who are you close-walking beside me? We’re like a foot—

And the shadow of a foot, that close, like a faint blue star—

And the same star, there, in the puddle at my foot—that far—


* * *


Dear shadow. I’m thinking of the imponderables tonight—

Such a paradox. The neighborhood quiet as a sock. Six blocks—

Around I go, haunted by the quiet, measuring quiet’s abyss—

By what I hear, not what I don’t. Tick of the red streetlights—


* * *


How quiet the gasp. Tick and whirr. Over then under—

Like a railroad, two red lights alternating—red—then red—

To mark the crossing. A far friend writes—cops on his block—

Broke—his jaw. A few notes of an oboe, half a block over—


* * *


Or an owl. To see darkness, find a tiny light. A far friend—

Says whisper-listing is when they don’t want you to know where—

Who bought what—the cost—the “upmarket” real estate phase—

Shadow lawns. Night sprinklers. Clover and zoysia. The toys—


* * *


I’m thinking, we know what we know by what it’s not—

The child at night, the storm roaring, storm exploding—

75 steps is 1 block. So deep through the night. Are you—

At their bedside, isn’t checking to see if her parents are still there—


* * *


The blue window. The tv. The block. Constellation of ghosts—

Gasp goes the light. The shadow—the thing she hasn’t said—

I take my last breath. Quiet, so quiet it is music. Faint star—

It comes home to me now. She’s checking to see if she is still there—

David Baker is author of thirteen books of poetry, recently Whale Fall, published in 2022 by W. W. Norton, and Swift: New and Selected Poems, as well as six books of prose about poetry. Baker’s poetry and essays have appeared lately in American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Yale Review, and others. He served for many years as Poetry Editor of The Kenyon Review, where he continues to curate the annual eco-poetry issue, “Nature’s Nature.” Baker lives in Granville, Ohio.

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