Night

Written by: Paul James

If you would only look out, 
you would see the star-studded sky and a 
swooning sickle moon, and down below 
a fleet of quiet snails sailing gently over 
lawns scented with newly cut grass. 

You might glimpse the ugly awkward 
gait of a dishevelled fox, trotting across 
a road that had lost its cars by midnight 
to the garages of suburbia; and perhaps 
spot a motionless hedgehog sleeping 
soundly beneath its mattress of bristles. 

If you would just open up your ears 
to the night outside, you might hear 
the howling owl in the primary school wood, and 
the on-the-hour Swiss cuckoo-clock over 
at Number Eight crying out, absurdly, for urgency, 
through an opened window. 

You would hear cats wauling 
and hear the swish of bats in the thick 
dark air, hear the wind softly turning the 
leaves of trees in search of only the wind 
knows what, and perhaps hear the tide, 
which sighs through the night from far 
away to someone, somewhere. 

But you won’t. You are lost in the night 
within, that deepest darkness where no 
stars shine, no moon lies recumbent, 
a birdless night shunned by animals, too, 
a night without roads, without lamps, 
a nightless night on the edge of death.