“Nightwalk” by Jill Alexander Essbaum


for jennifer carrera bognar

The beekeeper’s hut. The square, shared
lots of the neighborhood gardens. A
cemetery plot. A child’s white coffin. You
slip past them all with the old lamplit
longings. But tonight the stars are skyless
and your eyelid is scratched and you’re
crying. You pass a pack of sheepdogs. A
barn. Barbed wire. The sole, open
window of a small yellow house where a
wife in a shoddy red robe has mantled
her hair in a towel. (It’s never. Or now.)
And the city signs. And the welcome
mats. The fact of a placard that spells out
a speed bump. Apple trees ranked on the
shoulder of the road. Do the sunflowers
know they’re eclipsed by the moon? You
can’t go home to a hell. The bench on
the hill seems to sob. And church bells
bang like pans and pots.



Jill Alexander Essbaum is an author of several collections of poetry, including Harlot, Necropolis, and the 1999 Bakeless Prize winning book, Heaven. Essbaum’s work has been included in two Best American Poetry anthologies and in Best American Erotic Poems (2008). Essbaum’s novel Hausfrau (2015) was a New York Times Bestseller, named one of the best books of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, and Shelf Awareness, and nominated for the PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Essbaum teaches in the University of California, Riverside / Palm Desert, low-residency MFA program and lives in Austin, Texas.

Photo Credit: Lexi Clarke