Take Back the Dark

Do you man or woman? Are they afraid of the dark?
Not monsters under bed or hall closet noir, but walking
home talking loud on the phone to no one. That dark.
Residents-only parking, midnight to 6am. That dark.
Who do you pretend? Is it I, the ex-mother? Or me,
father dress pants? Stop shouting. Too windy tonight,
branch thwacking brick. Ever Heimlich a history book?
The past repeats at break-neck, like the men afraid
of the dark banding together years ago when I recall
you said: enough. Enough! We all screamed, in
baritone hair chest. This was, of course, long before
I was born. Who took the streets shaving them quick
and close with three blades, chanting pipes to cigarillos?
(Imagine fedoras blunt-thrusting placards.) And the women?
We drove past honking in pickaxe trucks, shouting pipe
down, hot dicks! We opened our nightcoats, unzipping
a thing deep as thousands of Mariana trenches, deep
as schism-pits haunting back-to-back bottomless
to the moon and kept yelling to drown the men’s chants.
Some of them were crying to think of women that way.
Speak of the forefathers’ terribly pressed pants,
won’t you? Dear? Please, the floor is mine.

Geneviève Paiement is a Montreal-born journalist turned poet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York TimesMinola Review, and on Salon, Vice, and elsewhere. She lives in Toronto with her husband and son.