Night is a well-worn coat I slip into,
wooly-plush and thick. There’s a viscosity and weight
to the dark which feels as if it could be grasped and held.
It seems to stretch and absorb shock like a black
bolt of lycra fabric. Animal-eyed stars peer coldly,
and shadows multiply in moonlight, sharpened or faded
with lunar phases, but always leaving the distance
between the object and opaque indistinct.
With irises starved for illumination, smells and sounds
prolong and elongate, swell and bloat. I breathe lilac
scent from blocks away and car exhaust lingers long
after vehicles depart. Owl-hoot from deep woods
comes to me as clearly as a phone call and low
conversation from a down-street porch is whispered
just to me. Every footstep tests texture and slope,
fingering gravel, pavement, and grass like Braille.
Untethered to sunlit surfaces, my body’s absorbed
by shadows of rocks, trees and structures
while imagination wanders like an outcast ghost.
The reflux of dreams, last-chances, joys and shame
arise like deer leaping into headlights on an unlit
road. Fearing my own deeper darkness
I navigate by dead reckoning, relying on where I’ve
been to know where I’m going.
Splashing into hidden puddles of memory, I’m
forever cowering beneath blankets during Dad’s
drunken rants, dropping a ball to schoolyard taunts,
cutting my son’s umbilical, squeezed by the desperate
gravity of divorce, breathing a mountain peak’s
panoramic revelation, until at last I arrive where night
is not just a later hour or light’s absence, but a disguise
revealing what cannot be seen by day.
David K. Leff is a freelance writer and photographer from Collinsville, Connecticut. He is the author of three nonfiction books and three volumes of poetry. Finding the Last Hungry Heart, his novel in verse about the confluence of the present and the 1960s, was recently released by Homebound Publications. Leff is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law and was Deputy Commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 1996 to 2006. More of his work is at davidkleff.com.
Image Credits: Photo courtesy of Shutterstock