ELEGY FOR NIGHTFALL
In bed, supine, with the sound of chickens clucking
down the road: this is how you wake, this is how
you greet the day. Miles away, horns honk
along the highway, a cacophony in a minor key.
& life keeps moving—we keep moving—shooting
forward like bullets from a barrel, lodging
into chest cavities, into temples, into palates, always
triggering injury, always knowing night
will fall. We fall, too.
We as in all of us. & the day darkens then dawns,
the black sky turns to slate, to blue, the sun dyeing the grass
green, dizzying us with its glint of dew. Most days you spend
praying: that your feet learn to face forward,
that the squirrels stop pilfering fruit from the fig tree,
that your nails harden into hatchets that spook what haunts
your head. That the cancer quits.
& most days, you miss something you can’t name, question
what hope remains
—if any. Still, you get up. You outside, lie on the grass,
revel in the rising sun. You watch bluebirds feed
at the birdfeeder, flip through the newspaper,
buy a baguette from the store. You watch the shade glide
like a ghost, the shadows touch the steps
of the courthouse. Watch a crow throw itself into the air.
Hear the clock-tower clang, a group of Girl Scouts laugh,
a few boys toss around a baseball. See a dog yank
on his leash, wiggling his way toward you.
You hold out your hand to greet him, a brief repose—
you don’t think about the alphabet of hurricanes,
how the state keeps turning to flame, how there’s no end
to them: these endings. You don’t think about how
night is nearly falling, except here you are, thinking about it.
Taking the shortcut home, you try not to think
about those golden hills you may never see green again,
or about how the night is dangling you over its mouth,
open wide as a gaping wound,
but search for the sweetspot in the backwoods of this
life—that somewhere between rapture