Clear Night by Charles Wright
MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM
Just checking in, writes J., one evening. To see if I’m okay. To see if I’m still alive. Maybe.
Too many people to grieve these days. One of them is myself although I don’t know exactly why I’m on the list. I just am.
I am alive—I guess—. Emily Dickinson in my head, but without the affirmation in the end.
Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.
I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.
And the wind says “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.
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This poem appeared in Country Music: Selected Early Poems by Charles Wright, published by Wesleyan University Press, 1982. Shared here with profound gratitude.
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