Love on a Night Like This

by Josephine Abbot

Outside, air is balancing itself. We can hear
branches in motion, some twigs breaking,

wires like violin strings, trees breathy as bass flutes.
The acoustics of friction. The science of equilibrium

isn’t at all easy. Effort is needed
to walk against the wind. Love isn’t easy.

Something – a plastic pot or a chair –
skitters on a path. A bin tips over.

Tonight, things are on the move:
leaves, dead and alive; seeds; fences;

flying insects and spiders new-worlded;
birds made helpless as plastic bags;

dust, sand, water, all turned to spray
and spread. Small trees blow over.

We are skittering on a path
though we’re heavy with flesh, bone, eyes, tongues;

we’re sea-birds in the teeth of a gale
trying to anchor ourselves in place;

we’re storm-petrels, called little Peters because
we only look for a while as if we can walk on water;

Mother Carey’s chickens;
oiseaux du diable.

Somewhere else, seas heap up and crests break.
Here, we’re ditching meteorology for myth:

the wind’s a creature broken out of a cave;
a wolf, and this is Ragnarök.

Glass breaks; a car alarm sounds; trees wrench.
There’s a science and a logic to loving you,

but there’s superstition on a night like this
and all the stirring of the world to settle first.