Look: I am building absence out of this room's air, I'm reading suppositions into summer's script snarled on a varnished floor. It looks like a man. That knot's his hand waving good-bye, that stippled stripe of grain's the stacked-up vertebrae of his turned back. Small birds (sparrows or finches, or perhaps) are cluttering the trees with blackened ornaments (burning in the remnant light of August eight o'clock), and noises I can't hear. Chirring there, chittering. The window's closed. I am assembling a lack of sound in this locked box, and dotting all the i's these floating motes present (my composition), I am not lonely for the palpable world (midges I dap hands for and kill), shivering into darkness underwater outside glass: what's left of light sinking from zero down to less, cobalt down to zaffer, deeper to purple-black where divers drown. The swimming landscape's all mistake (one world that shuts air into my submerged terrarium), and I am luck.
"Drawing from Life" from Angel, Interrupted, by Reginald Shepherd. Copyright © 1996. Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.