Green Hills Literary Lantern

I Let Myself Go



At this time of night, as I begin to forget

The small parts of the day, as my mind chooses

What to abandon and what to keep,

Something within me, the smallest part,

Returns to a childhood room

And begins to sleep.


I stand at the sink, washing cups, thinking

How to arrange words on the page,

How they will stretch, in lines, toward meaning

Like branches toward sunlight,

Like limbs toward touch, and I lose another part—


The one who spent long hours on cresting Ferris wheels

Sinks to the basement, searching

For spiders and old yearbooks, and soon

The one who lost entire shoes in sucking pockets of mud

And would not search for them

Leaves me quickly, dashes away

From the orange night of town, toward the closest river.


Three more leave with the 11 o’clock news, no goodbyes,

And a chapter of Nietzsche sends the last one running

For the car, my keys jingling behind her like an insincere apology.


By the time it is midnight, I am who I will be

At ninety, deciding what the day meant

As I measure the distance between the sky’s scattered lights,

Searching for belts and spoons,

Guessing what secrets I failed to find

Underneath the rocks, in between my friends’ words.


This morning, when I woke

To the wind shaking the leaves so roughly,

Maybe it was not actually God giving me directions,

Or the beginnings of a thunderstorm,

But the effect of return, of those

With clouded daylight on their faces,

Feet tired and dirty with mud.


And when I stepped into the bath, perhaps I shivered

Not at the cold porcelain or the hot water,

But at the force of my last self returning, late,

With a practiced explanation and no purse.




Elizabeth Adams is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire’s Masters’ program in poetry. She currently teaches writing at Westminster College and Penn State, Shenango. Her work has been published in the Café Review and the Southern Poetry Review.