After all we have done and left undone,
after joy, after grief, after unbelief,
after wrapping paper scattered on floor,
after food is gone or stashed away,
after conversations thrive or starve,
after bombs are thrown and names are known,
after fire and flood, after duties done,
after every going down of Sun,
the darkness still has not overcome,
the darkness will not overcome.
…he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
(Psalm 143:3 KJV)
my brother and I sleeping on
fold-out beds in our grandparents’ living room,
I found myself awake
well past the usual hour, and
my thoughts like the room plunged
in obsessive black, save
for a red electric glow from some
unidentified source, I knew no
comfort to tether me
to the physical facts of things – that here
I was, and there my brother was, and
upstairs my grandparents slept and
somewhere out there was the lapping of the sea,
the daggers my nighttime mind turned inwards
and the sheer obsidian
absence of light,
and though morning and my brother’s voice
restored me to earth, the night
with its limitless black save
that relentless red glow
have clung to me since
as the knowledge of Hell.
I must have a light
that can dispel such a dark.
But for now, in what passes as daylight,
remember those who dwell in night,
remember the night that lies before
those who fail to remember the light.
Remember the absence
of memory or light,
remember the path out of darkness
The first thing I must own
is that there is no place
in a new heaven or a new earth
for the ancient dirt
that clogs my soul,
no place for the fetid fury
that clings to my speech,
nor for the old-as-Cain
hatred of brother
that kills me the moment
that it kills you.
Truth be told, we forgot all about the axe.
Busy with our landscaping and renovations, we
neglected our gardens, all tangles of weeds
and fruit trees budding nothing while we poisoned the soil.
No surprise to find that it should come to this,
the moment of reckoning when our garden would judge.
Yet we were golden and glimmering,
felt eternal for too long.
The ending was never a flicker of thought,
the last things were the last things
on our minds.