Shadows are slinking down whitewashed walls
and the hum of a lone buffer begins to make
the floor look breakable as glass. We are stopping
at the end of today to hear the covert voices
materialize, as if it’s safe to say Joking.
We stand in the doorway looking up one side
and down the other for the source, wanting,
wanting to be in on the joke.
The long, thin
day’s end of the shadow stretches like a snake
across the empty hall, and it seems to say
From the direction of a shot ringing out
(or is it a cork?) a voice says Joking; from the sound
of sirens (police say an anonymous tip) we hear
Joking; there’s the sound of a slap on the stairs
(or is it a window shutting?) punctuated by –
The word creeps through the vents
to the point we wonder if we heard what we heard –
And soon it rises out of our lungs, we who step
out of our office, our school, over the man face down,
and past the once familiar friends and coworkers
slipping into the cracks, past the sound of a child
sobbing begins to sound like laughter.
Joking we say,
looking over shoulders, out of the corners of eyes.
D.A. Gray has completed two poetry collections, Contested Terrain, FutureCycle Press, 2017 and Overwatch, published by Grey Sparrow Press, 2011. His work has appeared in The Sewanee Review, Appalachian Heritage, Rattle: Poets Respond, Syntax & Salt, Saint Katherine Review, Still, and War, Literature and the Arts among many other journals. Gray holds an MFA from The Sewanee School of Letters and an MS from Texas A&M-Central Texas. Retired soldier and veteran, the author writes, teaches and lives in Central Texas.