Diane Scholl

Watch Night, 1862
by Diane Scholl

It isn’t so much the Proclamation as the whiff
of hope, night worrying bare branches
and rooftops, nibbling the contours
of a tired city. They gather in their churches,
studs and rafters taut with promise that is
not a promise. Someone begins to sing
the hours toward midnight, stokes a fire,
paces the wide-planked floor.

At last, no hair’s breadth, not even motes
of dust or wintry air move in this space.
Even the sleepers’ sighs are silenced;
beams forget to crack and settle.

This is faith: everything watches and waits,
the horned owl roosting, the wren
folding into its wing. Dogs slip
under sunken porches; crabs and bass
in the frozen Potomac barely breathe
beneath the almost tangible stars,
sharp as mica, the thin sliver of moon.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 1.

Diane Scholl lives in Decorah, Iowa, where she is Professor of English at Luther College, teaching courses in English and American literature, women’s literature, and poetry. Currently she teaches The Writer’s Voice, for aspiring writers and readers.

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