Abstract Mag TV | In Darkness by Nancy Cherry
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In Darkness by Nancy Cherry

06 Dec 2017, Posted by JL Jacobs in Poetry

Art: Vera Fonseka

IN DARKNESS

Before moonrise, before the trail, before I begin the climb,
I stop beside a dacha hovering at the shore and watch
shadows cross Tomales Bay as the sun falls.
Mud hens stitch paths on the water as frogs begin their litany
of the dark to come. Evening carries their broken rhythm,
their syncopated song. What can I contribute but the sound
of passing wheels? Nothing to hang in the air.
I turn my back on the colors of sunset—minarets of turquoise,
the pretty pink and gold, the ancient color of still water—
to find the trailhead.
What can I say of my father’s dying? His focus
on things he holds that are not there—parts
to make a train work, his pocket knife, two
lucky crickets, a quarter-sized piece of skin 
he’s torn away. He tells me something’s wrong 
with all the clocks. His voice definite. Definitive. 
No one tells him he is dying.
Tonight I climb into the dark while others climb toward light,
each step disappearing into the next as I wonder where
the moon will rise, what phase it’s in, how much light
might be falling in my garden. I am galvanized. I am iron.
I cannot be polished. I am 61 and do not bend. 
Last week I forgot garbage day. Forgot my keys. 
Forgot the form of poem I’d become enamored of. 
I lost my grammar, my spelling, my balance—tripping 
over the earth I’d pried open to tuck in new plants 
the way I tuck in my father though he pulls everything 
out again—the blanket, the sheets, his underclothes. 
He’s trying to untangle what I cannot find for him.
Lights blink on like small fires across the hillside. I climb
until the underbrush falls silent. I climb until the trees
have no names.
“Put it all away,” my father says. “Just open the door 
and let me get in the car. I’ll sit in back. Drive until 
you get me home.”
But what is home if not here
among his hats and books and model planes—
replicas of the Pan Am clippers he repaired
during the war that told my generation what
was good and what was not?
On the trail, a glint of rain on ivy. I am leaving behind
my father’s world of worries. The timeline he travels
passes through years I never knew.
And when he asks to see a picture of his father, he holds it up,
turns it over—touching home before his hands begin
to wander again toward whatever he sees with his eyes closed.

About the Author:

Nancy Cherry‘s writing has been included in Comstock, Calyx, Raven Chronicles, Cream City, Nimrod, Spillway, the Seattle Review and the anthology, The Place That Inhabits Us. Her first collection, El Verano Burning, was published by Radiolarian Press in June 2014. She currently lives 57 miles west of Point Reyes Station.
Art: Vera Fonseka, @verafonsekaartverafonseka.com
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