The Warmest Poem

In the summer, I posted a Basho haiku, and now, in winter, it’s Charles Wright. This reminds me of the prologue of A Death in the Family. And of that smoky, cicada-snare childhood. Was it ever mine?
 
“American Twilight” by Charles Wright
 
Why do I love the sound of children’s voices in unknown games
So much on a summer’s night,
Lightning bugs lifting heavily out of the dry grass
Like alien spacecraft looking for higher ground,
Darkness beginning to sift like coffee grains
                                                                                     over the neighborhood?
 
Whunk of a ball being kicked,
Surf-suck and surf-spill from traffic along the by-pass,
American twilight,
                                 Venus just lit in the third heaven,
Time-tick between “Okay, let’s go,” and “This earth is not my home.”
 
Why do I care about this? Whatever happens will happen
With or without us,
                                   with or without these verbal amulets.
In the first ply, in the heaven of the moon, a little light,
Half-light, over Charlottesville.
Trees reshape themselves, the swallows disappear, lawn sprinklers do the wave.
 
Nevertheless, it’s still summer: cicadas pump their boxes,
Jack Russell terriers, as they say, start barking their heads off,
And someone, somewhere, is putting his first foot, then the second,
Down on the other side,
                                             no hand to help him, no tongue to wedge its weal.

 

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