An Apprehension

Ten below, high of zero, 4:11 pm
flashed the alarm panel’s handsome blue touchscreen.

Without commotion or fire the afternoon
passed slowly, full of promise,

then disappointment.
Without heartbreak or break-in.

For company I had Kafka on my lap
and Qolsys vibrating lightly against the wall.

4:34    ...    4:35    ...    
There are all sorts of creatures in the world, I read,

wretched, limited, dumb creatures
who have no language but mechanical cries.

I stood up and stretched.
Face-to-face with Qolsys,

I peered into the sensors, into the little hole
of the siren, and touched up my lipstick.

Maybe I can ask Dave to come back, I thought,
Dave from Royal Security,

Dave with the smoky brown eyes,
maybe he can help.

I took off my slippers,
my bargain-basement bra, and danced.

Silence. Not even a mechanical cry — 
I wondered if the fault were mine.

Maybe I miswired the hard data?
The soft data?

Maybe the poor thing simply had no loins.
I opened the window.

Window opening, said Qolsys
in a low persuasive voice.

Outside there were heavy birds
weighing down the winter trees,

heaps of them in the gloaming, almost purple,
waiting for what, who can say?

I shut the window.
Window closing, said Qolsys.

It was a start, not so very different from others of my species,
narrating events as they happen,

I’m coming,
I’m coming — 

I opened the window again,
letting the cold air press across my wrists,

the back of my neck, my lips, hoping
at least the motion detector, inside,

or the birds, outside,
would respond to the scent that pulsed there.

You will not go unsampled! I heard the birds say.
Be mine! I heard the trees say.

I could have turned down the sound,
I could have shut the window,

but like a darkness slowly advancing,
like winter lightning,

we are drawn together.
More Poems by Catherine Barnett