Night Shift
by Pamela Uschuk

A woman alone shutters out the births
and deaths of stars, whole planets,
night-migrating killdeers
and sex-crazed mockingbirds
lost to her as she cranks shut
mini-blinds, double locks
all the doors on her heart. A woman alone
doesn’t walk out on the deck or inspect
the dark yard to read the cryptic script of need
constellations write across
midnight’s insomniac cheek,
doesn’t drop her jaw at rare comets
or meteor showers, the luxury
of couples, the rich or remote. A woman alone
is a feral cat, hears each crack
behind her back as cold fingers snapping her neck,
a rapist’s saliva curdling her ear,
blade razoring the intent of her ribs.
A woman alone stretches out dusk
like a bolt of smoked orange brocade, savors
the brandy of last light, then bares
her teeth to the shift to shade.

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