The Night is an Abacus · Ian Christopher Hooper

I would love to write a play, something historical.
With Henry Miller as my main character.
It could be good, really good —
but then again he’s already written his own story,
so I’d have to keep it short.

“I am Henry Miller, I lived and wrote and screwed and screwed and I am dust,
dust and vapor, I am dust.”

Then enters the mathematics of night, the great adding machine,
burrowing into my script,
and I wonder just whose stage directions I’m following, anyway?
Why I haven’t built that desk, written that play, learned Chinese, measured the length and breadth of these rooms. Why I just haven’t gotten more done?

Memories I see when I look sideways:
how I remember going with this girl to her father’s warehouse, after hours.
The old man owned a printing company, mid-sized, and his daughter
gave me the grand tour, turned off the lights, pressed herself up against me.
But I haven’t seen her now in something like fifteen years.
And so this is what fifteen years feels like.
Because I never thought I’d be able to look back on anything and say it had
been fifteen years.

Now I wear wool, felt, leather, the job I hold down.
I am spinning words from red clay, the same
as everyone else, starting all the way back with oracle bones,
the feelings glimpsed only at the fringes, out of the corner of the eye,
the plans sandcastled by restlessness.
The night is an abacus; the stars shuffle back and forth.

For the first time
I am counting off the days left to me.