A New Year’s Nocturne, New York
He can’t imagine what she’s staring at;
there’s nothing much to see through that plate glass—
nothing as classy as his coat and hat
or bright as her own dress. Why won’t she pass
this dullness by, as others do, and stroll
the year’s last hours away with him? He tries
to coax her, but he knows he can’t control
this woman he once charmed. Between his lies
and her baffling rebellions, what remains
between them is their duties and routines,
and nothing more; a formal night out strains
the roles they play in unconvincing scenes.
In time she’ll turn to him, and stroll along,
and smile, as if it hasn’t all gone wrong.
Nocturne, Railway Crossing, Chicago
Her friends—inside already—might suppose
this ride unpleasant—but despite the rain,
it’s cozy in this carriage, and she knows
she’ll get there soon enough. The passing train
has forced her driver to a stop; she wonders
if others in her place would rather be
aboard that charging iron horse; it thunders
through town and field, each car lit brilliantly.
She’s quite content just to observe the scene:
the counterpoint of speed and stillness, light
and dark; the air and streets washed clean;
the vaguely dazzling puddles that invite
reflection. She’ll be glad to see her friends,
but not because that means this journey ends.
Just like the crowd behind her, she wears black,
but knows that on her it looks more severe,
because she’s tall, because of her straight back
and tiny waist. She knows she won’t endear
herself to them by walking off this way,
apparently rejecting friends and lights
and flowers—she’s too moody, they might say—
but what she seems to need most from these nights
is just this solitary darkness. Wrapped
in shadows, she remembers grief, and knows
what Chopin meant; she senses depths untapped
by those who would forget, and so dispose
of half of music, much of love. Alone,
she hears a silent nocturne of her own.
Jean L. Kreiling
Jean L. Kreiling is the author of two poetry collections, Arts & Letters & Love (2018) and The Truth in Dissonance (2014). Her work has been honored with the Able Muse Write Prize, the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Sonnet Award, the Kelsay Books Metrical Poetry Award, a Laureates’ Prize in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, three New England Poetry Club prizes, and the String Poet Prize.
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