These Things Happen

In the middle of a night

in the middle of September

the dog awoke her with a

growl and when she followed

the animal out into the orchard

near the house she found

herself illuminated in a


lake of moonlight,

and wide awake

in a silence in which owls

and even crickets were asleep.


From the shadows underneath

the apple trees she watched the

dog’s black shape as it sniffed

along the fence and

didn’t see until too late the

ground beneath her slippers open

up and didn’t hear until too late

the silence suddenly erupt in

shrieks of spiders, leaves and

stones that held her as she

pitched headfirst into an

ocean canyon filled with stars.


She thought that she was dreaming,

as she tumbled through a rain of

sparks and cinders high above the

burning palaces and parliaments

and watched a choir of ravens

carrying the coffins of some Savior

and his innumerable concubines

across wheat fields paved with

clocks that all curled backwards

towards a grove of birch trees

she remembered from a distant

summer when she had been a girl

alone, afraid and lost who

imagined the latticework of

branches as the labyrinth of her

heart and saw each leaf– each

one a human face– turn slowly

into the black shape of a dog

curled up in sleep in an iridescent

lake of snow, and a woman

standing in an orchard in her

slippers in the middle of a frigid

night in Winter, held by

moonlight, like a friend.

© 2012 J.M.Keating

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