Autumn Dusk

Darkness and a moment’s pause from work
pull me down into a prison-house
where dawn will never come, or if it does,
it will not matter, since the darkest dawns
of winter will enclose us all too soon.

A veil has fallen over grassy earth,
brown echinacea, all the black-eyed Susans
that shrivel on September stems, the last
bees and monarch butterflies, the last
few flowers from which they drink at summer’s end.

A veil has dimmed my eyes. They cannot see
the beauty of an ordinary dusk
in their grief that cold will close in soon.

But on another coast, fires burn.
Skies are always cloudy red.
Air cannot quench lungs’ thirst.
Fleeing creatures cannot stop
to drink water or air.
Night and day both fade and glare
grotesquely the same.

Merciful light that breathes beneath the dark—
Light that glows at dawn and blooms in spring—
Let me see the ordinary sheen
when night shines black and day is bright with color.
The beauty of a painful autumn dusk
with only leaves aflame. No fierce sky
to choke and terrify.
No gasps for air.
Only the ache
of desire
that others
may be allowed
to breathe.


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