Lest the Last Light Flee Also
Lest the last light flee also,
and all shadows resort to themselves
in the vast but starless night,
we fed pine knots to the campfire,
miniature sparklers leaping red
parabolas and blue tangibles.
Though those small fires eyed up
in the pockets of our faces,
and each could tell the posture
and the bent of his comrades,
more by eye level and fire acceptance
than by any of a thousand words,
we felt that ghostly closeness
the old cave-drawn hunters knew,
the brace of union, solidarity’s
slow motion moving under skin,
a brothering darkness holding camp
like a briefcase about a document.
We fed stories to the faulting fire,
reams of stories, great breads
of stories a slice at a time,
thick, slabby, crusty mouthfuls
of what had brought us here,
our whole lives loafed up.
When a sound happened outside of us,
the owl’s calling attention, a croaker’s
voice setting up tent in the night
hawking his dominion of the pond,
a loon’s soliloquy sliding over hills,
the sad songs saxophones loose;
we accepted it as punctuation,
proper pause, the best of caesura.
We understood the leaf, knew the tree
hanging fire above our heads, the span
of it touching different days.
Even darkness can’t hide a tree.
But daylight, we knew, and white
water’s rapid turmoil can hide
the silver and red of trout,
can hide the mouth bitter for worms,
the string and foil of manufactured
flies and bare metal strikers.
Daylight hides the reddest fox,
the darkest owl, and campfire dreamers.
As we talk, red lights in our eyes,
dawn bulging behind timid leaves
like a poorly kept secret, we understand
there are only so many visits allowed.
This visit will be the last for one
or more, the odds having their say,
the threats as fluid as the stream
we dare bend our ankles in.
As we trespass, camped inland above
the water’s constant flowing,
we are reminded by earth’s quiet
of what the pause of being means,
we are merely a small glow here,
stars set off in a widening sky.
by Tom Sheehan