After the Dark Collects

After The Dark Collects

After the last nest palmed for eggs laid
late in the day, after the flashlight lifts up
the nodding head of each hen, one-eyed
and annoyed on her roost, after the dark
collects our easy prayers, my husband asks:
Did you count them? Twice?

Yes and Yes again. I refuse to give more
than that one word. I know he wants to hear
how I snugged the sun- and rain-cracked
bicycle toe clip strap to close the gate, how I
scented the air between coop and our back door
for fox and skunk, certainly enough to keep
the flock safe this night.

There are, of course, questions behind
the questions, just as before, the rustles and
shadows, the shiftless wall of willows. I want
to answer all the questions with more questions,
to end the mind’s desire for every answer.
I stared down the gate, the willows, the shadows,
even the stars who offered nothing, some days,
that answer enough.

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