Morning – Nicole Callihan

The light from the kitchen is a square in the field.

An empty truck in a gravel drive, idling in the grey.

It’s always been my favorite time of day.

I can almost differentiate the hum in the walls from what’s inside my body.

In the city alley, a cat in heat.

It’s been so long since I’ve heard this howling.

This calling.

And these kitchen lights: squares in the squares.

Driving out to the farm with Frank, there was a breech pony.

We drank our coffee from blue tin, smoked cigarettes with holes in the filters.

Now, a siren.

In my mother’s kitchen, the second hand—ticking and ticking—but never pushing past the nine.

Or going out to walk by the ocean.

Before the sun comes.

Before the earth turns just so.

I am not sure who I belong to when I sleep.

But morning I feel mine.

I’d be up and waiting when my dad got home from working third shift.

We’d share a bowl of Cheerios before he slept.

Then you only have one bowl to wash, one spoon.

It’s sleeting on the skylight.

The cat has grown quiet.

How nice to have sturdy walls, windows that open and close.

How grateful I am.

And I would like a spoonful of almond butter.

My grandpa stayed up so late and woke so early, they became the same.

My favorite color is the exact shade of his coffee.

And the ash in his tray that was the grey of the not yet day.

And I would like other things, too.

But there is not much you can get before dawn.

Or maybe everything is the same before dawn and after dawn.

It’s a naming thing, a shadow thing.

The way there is one light that won’t wake the others.

The way, eventually, except once, they’ll wake anyway.

Nicole Callihan writes poems and stories. ELSEWHERE, her latest poetry collection, a collaboration with Zoë Ryder White, won the 2019 Sixth Finch Chapbook Prize and was released in March 2020. Find out more at

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