Book of Hours

— Iris A. Law

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord
— Psalm 84:2a (NIV)

Summer now slips
through the calendar’s grid,
evaporates like rings of forgotten coffee

vanishing from the tabletop. I have finally
begun to unpack my library, to unnest
the heavy volumes from their cardboard boxes

and settle them into their homes on the shelf.
I’ve grown weary these inland months,
learning how the heart may ease loose

from its bindings and wander across plains in sleep.
In my mind’s eye, I still see the dimly lit
hospital corridor where I left you, bird-gowned

and tethered, your face plump and radiant with drip.
Go back to Indiana,​ you’d said, but when
I returned, you were already hollowed through,

soft shell of bark enclosing
a capsule of heartbeat, your body
already half ghost as your soul

grew pale as water, counting down
the hours until it could wrench itself free
of its spine and drift, leaves flapping, home.

Read more from Issue No. 17 or share on Twitter.