Café Terrace at Night
The ocean stoops above the strand, beyond
the final, gray lines of the last city block,
heaving softly about the quay, waiting.
Café lamps scour starlight from the summer sky,
while shadows of amber wrung from their saffron sheen
pool beneath the vacant chairs and tables.
Our words, unspooling in cool rivulets
in the deepening night, spill, mingling
with the brackish bite of the sea breeze
that washes across these narrow boulevards;
and time is caught, swirling in this eddy
encircling us, at the sound of your laughter.
At that point of winter
so deep unending night
seems a bed of pin-shaft stars
that press against flesh,
flush and numb,
you wonder if there was ever
and you’ve ceased to believe
in the fiction of spring.
And the antique houses along
this luminous blue valley
settle in the aching cold
and shotgun crack, echoing,
as sill and beam wrench
against each other,
objecting in their agony.
From their dreamless sleep,
unsure of what they’ve heard,
the inhabitants stir,
and the sheriff is called.
But the gunfire reported
in those small, bitter hours
is only that framing complaining,
and the people ease back
into narrow beds,
stock-still and silent
in these homes as straight
and as safe as coffins.
Kevin Casey is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and received his graduate degree at the University of Connecticut. His work has been accepted by Grasslimb, Frostwriting, Words Dance, Turtle Island Review, decomP, and others. He currently teaches literature at a small university in Maine, where he enjoys fishing, snowshoeing and hiking.