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A continuing selection of classic and contemporary poems.

Night: San Francisco

Deborah Ager

Rain drenches the patio stones.
All night was spent waiting 
for an earthquake, and instead 

water stains sand with its pink foam.
Yesterday’s steps fill in with gray crabs.  
Baritone of a fog horn. A misty light 

warns tankers, which block the green 
after-sunset flash. My lover’s voice calls 
to others in his restless sleep. 

The venetian blinds slice streetlights, 
light coils around my waist and my lover’s neck, 
dividing him into hundredths. 

Would these fractions make me happier? 
My hands twist into a crocodile. 
My index finger the tooth that bites 

Gauguin’s Tahiti. My thumb is the head feather 
of a California quail crying chi-ca-go. 
Night barely continues. Is this the building

staying still? Is this hand the scorpion
that will do us in? A few of Irving Street’s
sycamores will blue the air come morning.
© 2002 Deborah Ager. All rights reserved.
From New England Review | New England Review, 2002
Reprinted by permission of the author.
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