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I walk home at August moonrise
past a bright window.

Inside the room
an old woman sees the full moon
and turns off the lamp.

Afterimage shines in my eye:
pale face, snowy hair.

Moonlight streams over the dark house
like cool milk.
When the lamp is out, is the woman
still standing there alone?

In memory, her upraised hand glows;
in the house it is darker than shadow.
I stand on the sidewalk,

Metaphysics of an old lamp:
the shade has less meaning
than a soul's body.

Physics of a window:
Glass is thicker than night air,
thinner than wonder.

The question of whiteness
bears looking into.

So does a window.

Sounds of a moonlight night
are softer than rainwater.

Before responding to a face
at the window, first ascertain whether
it's looking out or looking in.

Also, whether it's the moon
or someone else.

None of this, of course,
explains the perfumes of August
or the way the moon silvers the grass.

Turn around and look again-
She is still there.

The first question has not
been answered. What was it?

© Julie Hill Alger