The Last Hours of Christmas

Mark DeCarteret

Earlier, I’d ladled dead mayonnaise
into the sink – eggs ever the informants,
so as to recycle the plastic container,
and then did time with yet another poet
wanting to be my estranged mother.
Eighteen miles from the sea (when in
reality have we ever referred to it as the sea?)
and still the gulls huddle, reading for their parts on the roof,
too cold to even bully any room at the feeder.
More neighbors will be lugging bags of wrap to the cul-de-sac.
One, clad only in thermal underwear, patched jacket
talking about duct taping the mouth of a loud dog.
Another, handing me a flyer lousy with used gum –
Every Friday is Ladies Night! Free Admission!
Maybe, I should introduce my soul on a dare.
And afterwards make raids on some variety store dumpster,
a 70’s security camera trained on my activities,
this sound like big fish gills clicking open and closed.
Instead, sparrows will rouse in the eaves, dallying
longer than usual, in their outdated wear.
The sky, so dull, our kisses seem rave-induced.
And there will be that sour inquisition of sleep again,
my eye-lids dialing up some prototype of peace.
Why am I late getting to most everything?
Putting away the cot, slept-in linens.
Stocking up on more top round and catsup.
Maybe I’m saving myself for the poet’s last task,
all that volunteering I’ve been thinking of doing.
Or for taking in the lights. Once the sun
has had at them a little while longer.