The talkative guest has gone, and we sit in the yard saying nothing. The slender moon comes over the peak of the barn.
The air is damp, and dense with the scent of honeysuckle. . . . The last clever story has been told and answered with laughter.
With my sleeping self I met my obligations, but now I am aware of the silence, and your affection, and the delicate sadness of dusk. ~Jane Kenyon, “The Visit” from Collected Poems
As we slowly adapt to evenings spent with family and friends again, taking off our masks to actually witness the emotion on a familiar, now unveiled, face:
There are smiles and laughter again. We are trying to remember how to be ourselves outside the fearfulness that contagion wrought. More important: there are tears again. And wistfulness. And regret. And longing.
This delicate sadness happened – even to those of us who were never directly touched by sickness. We will never be the same, never so light of heart again, remembering what this past year has cost.
It is a slow transition to dusk. We sit together now and watch it come.
I want to write with quiet hands. I want to write while crossing the fields that are fresh with daisies and everlasting and the ordinary grass. I want to make poems while thinking of the bread of heaven and the cup of astonishment; let them be
songs in which nothing is neglected, not a hope, not a promise. I want to make poems that look into the earth and the heavens and see the unseeable. I want them to honor both the heart of faith, and the light of the world; the gladness that says, without any words, everything. ~Mary Oliver “Everything”
I usually write at dawn during the shift change as the light switch is flipped on leaving me blinking and squinting to see what the morning will bring.
I need the quiet clarity of daybreak to prepare myself for what is to come.
Yet the fading light of dusk and advancing shadow of twilight soothes my soul and calms my heart as sky relinquishes sun to moon and stars.
The stage is bare, the audience hushed, waiting expectantly for the moment the curtain will be pulled back to reveal earth’s secrets once again.
Evening, and all the birds In a chorus of shimmering sound Are easing their hearts of joy For miles around.
The air is blue and sweet, The few first stars are white,– Oh let me like the birds Sing before night. ~Sara Teasdale “Dusk in June”
Sure on this shining night Of star made shadows round, Kindness must watch for me This side the ground. The late year lies down the north. All is healed, all is health. High summer holds the earth. Hearts all whole. Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand’ring far alone Of shadows on the stars. ~James Agee “Sure on this Shining Night”
It is high summer holding the earth now; our hearts whole and healed in a shimmering dusk.
I weep for wonder that we have this time, at this place, singing under these stars.
May we live sure that on another shining night, sometime, we know not when, we know not how, we will all be together again.
Sap withdraws from the upper reaches
of maples; the squirrel digs deeper
and deeper in the moss
to bury the acorns that fall
all around, distracting him.
I’m out here in the dusk…
where the wild asters, last blossoms
of the season, straggle uphill.
Frost flowers, I’ve heard them called.
The white ones have yellow centers
at first: later they darken
to a rosy copper. They’re mostly done.
Then the blue ones come on. It’s blue
all around me now, though the color
has gone with the sun.
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…
…The air is damp and cold
and by now I am a little hungry…
The squirrel is high in the oak,
gone to his nest , and night has silenced the last loud rupture of the calm. ~Jane Kenyon from “Frost Flowers”
Even when the load grows too heavy,
our misery rolling in like a fog that
covers all that was once vibrant,even then
there waits a nest of nurture,
a place of calm
where we are fed
when we are tired and hungry.
We will be filled;
we will be restored.
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.
As imperceptibly as Grief The Summer lapsed away— Too imperceptible at last To seem like Perfidy— A Quietness distilled As Twilight long begun, Or Nature spending with herself Sequestered Afternoon— The Dusk drew earlier in— The Morning foreign shone— A courteous, yet harrowing Grace, As Guest, that would be gone— And thus, without a Wing Or service of a Keel Our Summer made her light escape Into the Beautiful. ~Emily Dickinson
All throughout these months as the shadows have lengthened, this blessing has been gathering itself, making ready, preparing for this night.
It has practiced walking in the dark, traveling with its eyes closed, feeling its way by memory by touch by the pull of the moon even as it wanes.
So believe me when I tell you this blessing will reach you even if you have not light enough to read it; it will find you even though you cannot see it coming.
You will know the moment of its arriving by your release of the breath you have held so long; a loosening of the clenching in your hands, of the clutch around your heart; a thinning of the darkness that had drawn itself around you.
This blessing does not mean to take the night away but it knows its hidden roads, knows the resting spots along the path, knows what it means to travel in the company of a friend.
So when this blessing comes, take its hand. Get up. Set out on the road you cannot see.
This is the night when you can trust that any direction you go, you will be walking toward the dawn. ~ Jan Richardson from “Through the Advent Door”