En Attendant 

Samuel Beckett. A forest somewhere in France, 1941


Moonlight, when it passes through enough trees,

is no longer milky—is barely light at all;

it is then a suggestion of illumination. 

When you can’t see, things become suggestions, commands

imploring you to action and response -

to jump when the twigs behind you break, to hold fast 

when you lose track of time and you can no longer

see your cheap watch’s face.  

                                                     And to listen

for voices; Irish, French, German.

 

In this gathered dark your legs are shadows.

You are a broken glass of a man,

surviving on bread and milk and whatever paper

you can find. You are at your most and least alive

during these nights en attendant. You are alive because

you are in barely suspended physical danger, but you are 

practically snug in the grave as you watch time pass,

as your nameless man does not come, and as squirrels contrive

with sticks to mimic the sound of a pistol priming.

 

You pull on threads in your sweater and feel your toes

grow numb. You spend long hours considering, in fact,

silently calculating the loudness of urine on leaves.

Maybe tonight there is a wind through the forest,

maybe the pine needles are moving past your feeling-less

feet. Maybe you are left with a fading anticipation,

a sense of duty hiding under tense muscles,

and deepening wrinkles. All within a slender frame hidden

between the shadows, the moonlight, and the trees.

James McNaney is a writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He writes poetry, prose and non-fiction. You can find more of his work at his blog paper-sail.blog and follow his twitter @JamesMcNaney1.