Encounter

I’ve become the walking man at midnight,
meandering streets in spectral silence,
slow steps to pace a racing heart.
Count the trees, count the doors,
count the cars,
slowly.

Sometimes, I cross your path, familiar fox.
You pause, one hesitant foot, head turned,
ears up, and then you smooth and slink
yourself into the dark.
It swallows you whole.
Count the stars.

The fog is thick, clouding golden lampposts
in capsuled breath, blurred fireflies,
muting their electrical buzz
resisting death.
Count the lampposts.

I hope for a fresh encounter. Not the fox
or late drunken straggler, but a giant,
whose grace I could meet on the streets
in soft, gigantic peace,

a behemoth of modest pride, metre strides,
polite in presence to soothe a mind,
to mend a heart of glass,
fractured and warped.

If you would kindly point me in the right direction,
if you would kindly tell me which way I should be going,
I’d feel a lot better,
and maybe that will stop me walking at midnight.


This poem is the product of the midnight walks I took during the darker years of having anxiety, to the dozens of nights when it stirred. I lost a lot of sleep to it.

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