My poem “In Paradisum,” which will appear next year in my book Storm Swimmer, appears in the Winter 2022 issue of Philadelphia Stories magazine, available at dozens of cafes, bookstores, and libraries in the tri-state region. Many thanks to Courtney Bambrick and the rest of the editors at the magazine for selecting it.
“In Paradisum” by Ernest Hilbert
The basement furnace dies at 3AM.
The chilly weather of early spring
Arrives by degrees inside the house,
Like seawater leaking into a hull.
We bundle up, treasuring our warmth.
By afternoon, the halls have chilled, as wind
Whines tunelessly and rattles at the glass.
“In Paradisum” from Fauré’s Requiem
Chimes down the crooked stairs like lazy stars
Revolving overhead, pining away
For me, yearning to have me home again,
Out there shining in solar Sargassos,
Or ocean swirls of discarded plastic
Gathering in Pacific emptiness.
Fresh dust snows on the furniture and floor. I breathe
The busy air, teeming with life, split by shafts
Of sunlight. My voice is dry from all the dust.
It’s taken over everything. It coats
The meniscus of my glass of water.
It’s made of us, our cats and candles—
Rumors of how our lives will be consumed—
Particles of meteor and pollen,
The powder that appears on the floorboards
When nails are hammered into old walls—
Iridescent archipelagos of pearl
Trailing lagoons of chalk white in their wakes.
Our self-incineration, which hardly hurts,
Starts lightning racing into nothingness.