Just when I’m tucking my eyelids in,
Wrinkling my toes, and
Telling my knees I’ll see them in the morning,
I hear them.
Screams from the flat next door.
They start off like the child outside my window.
Falling off her swing
Then they build up and up
Until at last I can hear nothing else.
Not even the silence
Not even the clock thumping of my heart
And then suddenly
And I fall asleep
One night before it was quiet
I left my bed
Opened my door
To wait and watch the door opposite
And, as I gazed
I saw a small glistening tear
Ooze out of the keyhole.
The screaming stopped.
I have asked the person who lives there
Whether she ever hears anything
She never does
But I have noticed, she never shouts
And, so she says,
She has never fallen off a swing
July 1980 (revised August 2000)
I felt moved to add a poem to National Poetry Day...