Night Rising: poetry

for Odo

by Carol Gilbertson


We call it nightfall,

as if darkness dropped

like a velvet curtain.

And it does seem to descend

on the city, where the sun slips behind brick walls

and shadows incise triangles under balconies.

Urban dark moves down through jungle gyms,

falls into the hoods of men blanketed in store entries.

It drops onto laps waiting at bus benches,

sending shadows from bags and briefcases.

Night falls, filling dumpster covers,

settling under parked cars

and drawing dark compass rings

beneath streetlights.

But on the plains

darkness rises from the long land,

the soil slowly cooling underfoot,

releasing black beneath the green

quack grass, the poison ivy leaves,

the stalks of little bluestem and crested wheatgrass.

It deepens the blue undersides of flowering flax,

the purple berries of the buck brush.

The evening spreads upward

along rows of hanging sunflower heads.

It ascends the cornstalk

and traces a sharp line

under each arched leafblade.

Beyond fenceposts

pheasants startle up from muted underbrush,

and shadows outline the fringe-ends

of mane-hair, the teats and sagging udders.

Twilight slides under headlights,

along the ditchline.  In farmyards

men stride dark paths from barns

as dogs bark at emerging night.

And large-eared deer lift their silhouettes

against the sky’s last bloom

as the dark earth reaches up

to nudge the crescent moon

into its dim position.

This poem has been republished in Gilbertson’s recent chapbook, From a DistanceDancing (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and appears here by permission of the author.

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