From Night Sky

Joanna Klink

Read a micro-conversation with the author here.

Millennia. Dry winds. War crosses through steel trees.
Is it enough to hold on, under swinging darkness,
as fires wheel across night. In pure quiet, chemicals
are dropped from the air, the breath of one child strains
and then stops. This is entrusted to us in patterns of dust
on cement, a sudden sharp breeze, minerals that cloud
over with light. In the power that grows in us
when we stand on the surface of the planet, and see.

 

• •

 

Who are we, on the ground, below the flawless lights of
sky. What have we done, what have we broken.
Our shame is nothing to the ravines and the pines,
the ice and luna moths. As they live, they knit themselves
into alluvial heat. When they vanish they form a dome
over the earth. We may hold our heads in our hands,
neither moving nor opening. But our grief is clear, and alive.

 

• •

 

Centuries, signal flares. The crows black flames in the trees.
Who lives unto night sees the air when birds fly, touches
the ground before storms. A sensation of moving
thunder. There are whole nights of snow. We will lose
this too—we will lose everything. But fiercely, in the dark.

 

• •

 

Dark blue, bronze-flickering stars, the sky color
deep against the volcanic field. A quiet made of moths
and water. Even here your arms fly up to shield
your eyes. What you did, what you said, what stung you.
It gets harder to live—the losses more thorough,
more painful, borne in your chest along the roads.
The shift to peace is soft, barely there.
A scrape of gravel, the breathing of trees.

 

• •

 

Ankerite glints in the ground, the evening rises.
Those you consider your enemies also wonder What for.
You merely lived. You were offered the ice-crushed
movement of rivers, gravel roads, hawks with fields
in their eyes. Years, alluvial soils—which can be broken.
The great herds crossing the plains drove past
their hunger. These are the hands that trace the bark
or catch the soft rain blown in by clouds. These are
the exhausted sleeping men. Welcome and farewell.

 

• •

 

Black sky soaked with ghost-violet. Gold tossed
on dark agate roads. It is enough that you should
be here to see. Enough to feel the deep-floating
surround. Sometimes we mourn even without cause.
There are nights when breath fills the stillness,
days when your thoughts climb a staircase to
clouds. Carry yourself into sky. Your life is open to you.

 

• •

 

Time of wind, time of dust, time of sky. You have
no kingdom. The ones you love will die. And to be alone
is hard work, takes a life of preparation. Underneath
the scorched domes, you are inlaid muscle, spindle-
bone, a body of mistakes—but you are turning to carbon,
sharded ice, you are the brief errand of what was
given to you in unceasing splendor. It is enough
to be the imagination of your heart, it is enough to spend
your life trying just to listen—someone hesitating,
a man with no home, families pulled from boats at sea.
Until the ones who suffer are understood, the blurred
gowns of stars will stay lit. Your torso is the sound
of one child calling, the sound of leaves in high gusts of sun.
Barbed wire flowing through the dark.

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