An Intricate Dusk





Black birds slice their evening patterns—
long curves in the sky. Everything
is drawing down into shade.
But the dark, which is at first so simple
is not simple. Away from the farmhouse
with its slits of yellow, the monochrome
develops like a print in the chemical bath.

The unbroken velvet swims
with complications so subtle that
seeing and hearing must take their time
to know. The shadow purples,
the dusk intricate with crickets. The sky
infested with pricks of light.
My whole body an ear, an eye.
~Luci Shaw “A Simple Dark”


Let it come, as it will, and don’t   
be afraid. God does not leave us   
comfortless, so let evening come.
~Jane Kenyon from “Let Evening Come”

Wandering the evening farm,
I feel the darkness,
more than see or hear
the settling of birdsong,
the rise of coyote calls,
the horizon’s firelight,
the slowing of my pulse,
and the deepening of my breaths.

I let it come, this most intricate dusk.




To Be Wild and Perfect for a Moment



…and there it is again — 
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open. 
Do you love this world? 
Do you cherish your humble and silky life? 
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, 
and softly, 
and exclaiming of their dearness, 
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, 
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?
~Mary Oliver from “Peonies”



White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.
Outrageous flowers as big as human

heads! They’re staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.
The moist air intensifies their scent,

and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it’s coming from.
In the darkening June evening

I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one’s face.
~Jane Kenyon “Peonies at Dusk”


Year after year, I bring peonies to the graves
of those from whom I came,
to lay one after another exuberant head
upon each headstone,
a moment of connection between us
before it shatters,
its petals perfectly
scattered to the wind.




We Are Bereft



Silence and darkness grow apace, broken only by the crack of a hunter’s gun in the woods.  Songbirds abandon us so gradually that, until the day when we hear no birdsong at all but the scolding of the jay, we haven’t realized that we are bereft — as after a death. Even the sun has gone off somewhere.  By teatime the parlor is as black as the inside of a cupboard.

Reading after supper on the couch, I let my mind wander to the compost pile, bulging with leaves and stalks.  I’ve turned it a few times since October, but the pile’s hard surface no longer yields to the fork.  Even the earthworms have retreated from the cold and closed the door behind them.  There’s an oven warm at the pile’s center, but you have to take that on faith.  Now we all come in, having put the garden to bed, and we wait for winter to pull a chilly sheet over its head.
~Jane Kenyon from “Good-by and Keep Cold”




We Ate, Grateful





We turned into the drive,
and gravel flew up from the tires
like sparks from a fire. So much
to be done—the unpacking, the mail
and papers … the grass needed mowing ….
We climbed stiffly out of the car.
The shut-off engine ticked as it cooled.

And then we noticed the pear tree,
the limbs so heavy with fruit
they nearly touched the ground.
We went out to the meadow; our steps
made black holes in the grass;
and we each took a pear,
and ate, and were grateful.
~Jane Kenyon “Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer”



Summer Rain

summerrainDrip drip the trees for all the country round,
And richness rare distills from every bough;
The wind alone it is makes every sound,
Shaking down crystals on the leaves below.

For shame the sun will never show himself,
Who could not with his beams e’er melt me so;
My dripping locks—they would become an elf,
Who in a beaded coat does gayly go.

~Henry David Thoreau from “Summer Rain”


How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from “Rain in Summer”


Everything blooming bows down in the rain:
white irises, red peonies; and the poppies
with their black and secret centers
lie shattered on the lawn.
~Jane Kenyon from “Heavy Summer Rain”

Moody Dusk




I’m out here in the dusk…

There is no one home but me—
and I’m not at home; I’m up here on the hill,
looking at the dark windows below.
Let them be dark…

…night has silenced
the last loud rupture of the calm.
~Jane Kenyon from “Frost Flowers”