Madeline Gilmore

Knowing What I Know Now

Today the leaves are coloring,
and everything appears drenched as if
in smoke, pale blue and sustaining.

Walking alone isn’t so terrible.
I’m learning the way
the cool air snaps and hisses

around my ears, perseverance.
I’m seeing what I missed—
the dimness of the sky

that makes the lights
in the storefronts glow,
the mail truck with no driver,

the grocer’s dog curled and sleeping
by a pole. It’s important
not to let good things go.

I’m seeing that now.
I should have told you
to turn the lights down

and come to bed. I should have
told you to take the dog
for more walks. Even the dog needs

to understand that putting
on shoes means going outside,
that when you say, “I’m going out,”

you mean she’s coming, too.


The Christians

All night I think about the play
the way we are taught to think about love,
with something like guilt and dull elation.
The pastor loses faith in God.
The pastor says to his wife,
It’s a feeling, that’s how you know it,
and she replies, I fear
we will not be together forever.

All night the subway runs dark and slow,
the floor lit orange beneath the arches.
I watch and say, there will be magic
and we will understand.
I find a way to say Amen.
I find a reason to call again,
though the time is long from when I lay
on your floor, motionless from joy,
long from when you smiled at me
across the station on whose walls,
delicately, reflections passed.