One night goes on longer than the rest, never so long, whiled away. Then dawn. Goodbye, insects. Hollow casings on the windowsill, a dainty leg among the spice jars. Goodbye, marigolds, the earth will not wait for you. Trains hurtle by at the edge of cities, the taste of bourbon, a mouthful of leaves. Above everyone's dining-table a chandelier burns. Now the luxurious old wine can be uncorked, the slicing of meat and bread, uncorked, and in the black panes life goes on. Roo Borson
We have an heirloom chandelier. None of us quite know where it is from. Sometimes we say Austria, sometimes Hungary. I have seen them burning in dim churches, semi-lit, on holiday, even when the sun is blazing outside. It is not above a dining room table. It is in the quiet space of fireside and sofas. Only the biggest room in the house can take it. One thing I know: when we put it on, it means we are in a new season, with darkness hurtling towards us, like grief, like a rigged election, like a pandemic, like a train. Our lives do go on in the black panes. Our lives do go on. But let’s not say, or pretend, that it is not dark out there. It is dark. And the lonely job of grief goes on, even as we choose to enter it.
You Look Outside
You look outside. Already it is five o'clock. The world is disappearing. Across the city, yellow leaves are dropping from the trees– lamps going out slowly– In the Diamond district, store owners undress the windows. They unclasp necklaces from the headless mannequins. You look outside. Already it is evening. On the table, the books lie open to where you stopped reading about the Magellanic clouds. The sky is violet against the iron railing. In the river, cars drift upside down with their lights on. Malena Mörling
You look outside. From across the city a train makes its train noise, simultaneously alluring and distant. I wonder how many people are on it. I look outside. It is Autumn. The dog is happy, madly chasing around the garden after an apple leaf. She is only a puppy, at the start of everything. A car slides by the house on the wet road. The dog yaps after it, chases another leaf, then growls for no reason under her breath at something only she can see in the gathering gloom. I go outside to find her. Already it is autumn, just past five o’clock. Time to feed her, I think. I pick her up, cuddle her close in the stiffening breeze. Let’s do this together, I say, to myself or her, I am not sure. Let’s go into this together, this grief, this house, this beautiful space, where the lights are on, where it is warm, where we are safe in the black panes, our lives reflected back to us.
Poems from Now and Then: The Poet’s Choice Columns 1997-2000, by Robert Hass.