Burial Eve

by Michael McFee

All night dad circulates the house
like a deep-sea fish inspecting a wreck.

He shuffles and pulses his flashlight
off the furniture, a nervous thief.

Nothing changes, but everything’s changed.
He paces the sunken darkness and blinks.

He checks on me in my wagon-train bed
as if I were six. He touches the covers

and sighs. I pretend to stir in my sleep,
again. He resumes his ghostly cruise.

The pressure per inch on the anglerfish
waiting for prey on the ocean floor

must be enormous, water darker than oil.
Morning is miles above our breathing.

Michael McFee has published five collections of poetry — Plain Air, Vanishing Acts, Sad Girl Sitting on a Running Board, Colander, and Earthly — and has a sixth forthcoming. He has also published two anthologies, The Language They Speak Is Things To Eat: Poems by Fifteen Contemporary North Carolina Poets (UNC Press, 1994) and This is Where We Live: New North Carolina Short Stories (UNC Press 2000). He has also collaborated with photographer Elizabeth Matheson on To See (North Carolina Wesleyan College Press, 1991). He currently teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill.

From Sad Girl Sitting on a Running Board (Gnomon Press, 1991), © 1991 Michael McFee. Used by permission of author.