Movements of chairs over the floorboards
resound from the upstairs window,
from the sanity of our family:
our grandmother lived for nine decades.
She would use walnuts to smooth out nicks left
in the wood,
its oil rich and fragrant
when the coroner opened the crevices
of her body
and found deposits of mercury.
Now is not the time for explanations—
Wait in the library,
leaf through this text:
“Penumbra is the simplest translation
of la pénombre, since the Latin lingers behind both words
(almost-shadow / paene-umbra).”
Some other time, you’ll stumble across it
in a ghost story as “semi-darkness.”
The coffee in your mug will be
cooled, the tea in mine still steaming.
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