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The Pest

Fall 2016 - Vol. 58, No. 4


This poem appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.


It comes to us in the night, instead of sleep,
To taunt us with the trammels of God’s creatures.
Our limits ache within its quiet creep.
The muffled titter of children mocking teachers
And the wind’s cold and cryptic whisperings
Whirl in its whishing shadow-movements, buried
Among our desperately dusted antique things.
Its presence, eldritch, keeps us turning, worried,
Like the off-chance we have arterial clots,
Or that we’ll wake up boxed inside a grave.
Eyes shut, we try to think cool, placid thoughts:
A green shoreline, a Botticelli Love.

And still it comes, comes with weird rhythms, crawls
Somewhere unseen. We fear its touch will change
Us, make us sick. We hear it in the walls,
At its slow work, and the whole house grows strange
With childhood memories.
                                                We do not dream.
We toss like unknown planets in a void.
Inhabited silences edge us toward a scream.
We grasp each other, wild to be destroyed.


Ryan Wilson was born in Griffin, Georgia, and holds graduate degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and Boston University. Recent work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in such journals as 32 Poems, First Things, the Hopkins Review, and the Sewanee Review. A doctoral candidate at The Catholic University of America, Wilson lives with his wife in Baltimore.