Sean Nevin


This white.
That yellow. This blue.
No matter what color pill
I crush into the applesauce, this blue bowl,
to feed you and myself, one
full night of sleep, one night
without this wandering. That weeping.
Without the long rattle of doors.
Without the all-night cricket clatter,
and your struggle to shed that yellow
wallpaper, that stained skin
peeling from walls. To shed, in this darkness, your bed
and the white, white infestation of these boards.
Each evening that same urge to slip
this lumbering form, to step from its wreckage as from a robe
dropped to the floor.
Each evening the struggle to ditch the feeble disguise
of body, this skin, this jerry-built cage
of bones that holds you, like the rescued starling, disconsolate
and thrashing
against its cardboard box.
Each evening that blue persistence,
that voice, telling you
to keep an appointment,
to catch the bus, to report to a job
lost fifteen years ago, to keep your word,
to collect the debt, to make things square.
Each evening the struggle to take off your coat, to sit,
rest, lie back, to be still.
To sleep one night without this broken clock
that is you, still chiming
in this still-blue hour of evening,
telling you, you are late, overdue.
You are expected somewhere important hours ago.
Years. And you rise, rise
like bad clockwork. Like I have forgotten.
Like I don’t understand.
Like I never understand
the living-room drapes are engulfed in flame.
Like the whole damn house of mind
is burning down around you, and the walls
are all swallowing their doors.

Sean Nevin
“Sundowning” is from Oblivio Gate (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008).