Whistling

       Eternity is sitting on my doorstep, whistling
       an air I can’t quite remember, not stark
       but sibilant and clear and faintly melancholy,
       a tune I can almost hum with a beat that makes
       the foot of my arthritic leg begin to tap.
       Eternity now stands in the entryway, renewing
       that melody the name of which is on my tongue
       but keeps eluding me like the slipper I discovered
       after several weeks behind the potted plant.
       Suddenly as if from around the corner, I remember,
       and my mouth begins to form the simple lyric,
       the inkling of permanence beginning to creep
       across the surface of my mind the way deep chill
       penetrates even the most insulated winter walls
       so that no blanket can quite keep me warm.
       Ensconced now on my living room sofa, Eternity
       lounges with nowhere to go and plenty of time
       to get there, and I know I will never be able to get
       that sound out of my head, the piece entwining
       itself, coiling around every sleeping moment
       and every twilit daydream, shuddering itself awake.
       The late afternoon sun flares in the window
       and flashes across the room, and I am stiff
       when I stand to pull the drapes, the song insistent
       as light fills my eyes, blinding me momentarily,
       and I remember how tiny snakes of excrement slid
       across the sheets of both my parents charmed by no
       reed instrument as they lay awaiting their deaths,
       and their humiliation begins to shake me, the
       body emptying itself of all semblances of control
       and returning to its initial helpless sprawl
       now that that becoming aria has now become me.
       The darkness begins to rise from the floor,
       and Eternity is standing by the stairs, beckoning,
       and the music has begun again at the beginning
       that is only the beginning and will never let go
       of all its instruments, will go round and around,
       piped up, never subsiding, and always, always whistling.


John G. Morris is a Professor of English at Cameron University, where he has taught for twenty-eight years. He is the author of Noise and Stories (Plain View Press, 2008), and is trying to pull together a second collection, to be entitled Unwritten Histories. His poems have appeared recently in The Concho River Review, Red River Review, The Red Earth Review, Westview, and The Great American Wise-Ass Anthology.
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