Lana Ayers

Dusk after Galway Kinnell Light standsfor all beautyeven for those things that transform into dark,for everything possesses beauty, from within light is dark; though sometimes it is necessaryto teach others how to see loveliness in all things,to create the metaphor of shadowas deep reflecting pooland show in words and in breathhow lovelyuntil others see their own dark mirrored, light in dark; as with the duskwhere the sinking sun sends outlast rays to the earth, saying in glow and shadow that beauty is also in the closing down, and those of us who doubted, begin seeing that fading lightwelcomes the dark and its mysteriesthrough beams radiating down through cloud, to the charcoalinghorizon, to the bluing of the green hillsdown through the great unfolded map of valleysand plains, prairies and sand dunes, all haloed between day and nightfrom grass beneath our toes to leaves bristling in trees, or still branches:the fleeting, perfect loveliness of dusk. Every Hour Dawn began with the sightof red lightsflashing on numerous truckscrowded by the beach entrance,some emergency that brought outfireman and state police,sheriff and ambulance. And now, as daylight movestoward duska doe, ears pitched upright,perhaps by the clackingof my old keyboard,pauses its chewingof the native salal,stares into my open windowwith eyes that seem to seeright through meand my fallow pursuit of words. How swiftly the world shiftsfrom safety to siren,every hour some new threatopens like bud, ripens like berry,and all the while crows frolicin the broken-glass-strewn grass,sparrows flitter acrosslive electrical wires,and remain largely unharmed. We humans come into this lifeentirely relianton others for survival,but shortly thereaftercome to understanddeath is the inevitablethrough-linefor everyone,and only luck and blusterget us most of the way there intact. It is a fact that our home planetspins on an axis,though we seem fixed & uprightas the sky wheels its day starand night moon through the paneof ever-changing horizon.What lies aheadis more of the same,and nothing we imagine. This morning’s emergency,our next-door neighbor tells metonight, when I am outwalking with my two dogs,was a surfer taken under the wavesby riptide, drowning,fighting for his life,as one after anotherfamily member rushed in to help,succumbing to the omnipotentseawater themselves.“But one stranger dove in and roseagain, so everyone left breathing,” he said.“Good news in the end.” And that seems a fitting summaryfor what we all want—breathing in every houruntil the good newsof our demise arrives,and hopefully, it is good news—because we lived with joydespite all the painthat came callingonce and again,but also vanished for stretches,and we watched with awethe inquisitive deerwatching us,munching idly on leaves,and we dipped a toeor two or a fewinto the almighty ocean,and we told ourselvesthe very storieswe wanted to hearover and over and over. The Joy of Words Simple words: bird, salad, wedding, dog, log. Music insists on itself in the consciousness stream. A dream where language composes the shapes of imagination. Railway station phrases illustrate scenes. Once there was an abstraction and all of humanity sought to fill it with concrete. But the aggregate would not set, not let love, or beauty, or cold, or fear, or hunger, answer to one definition, one master. To cast a word in bronze may be tempting. But what about time, change-maker, breaker, evolve, devolve, reimagine? Today I write the word breeze and it means gentle. Tomorrow, when the nuclear winds blow, or the coronavirus, breeze as we know it, will be death. How can we make any permanent mark on the soul of art? The mind is fickle and mankind does not find any one truth. Joy is transitory and changeable as states of matter in the universe. First is a point of infinite mass. When that implodes, gas, and gravity, and matter. Nothing’s the matter with loving the way one word follows another, cowbells in the pasture on William Duffy’s farm. Else, drops of rain clattering like nails against the windowpane. Poets hold no exclusive license on pain. Similarly, love. The robin collides with your kitchen window unknowing how stunning glass can be, the window invisible even to itself. How seldom we praise the imaginary made real. How a feeling is something neuroscientists can electrify into the brain. How the speed of thought defies Einstein’s speed of light upper limit. How the scope of joyis immeasurable. Or is it the height or weight or texture? Or perhaps the reflective melody. Meaning is its own cage. Let the page exist on higher planes than the three- or four-dimensions we humans can trace. Let us taste the multiverse a poem is. Let us suck the marrow of hieroglyphs letters can be. Let focus dissolve. Let us lose ourselves in the maze of patterns across the page until only our hearts can read them.
Lana Hechtman Ayers, night-owl, coffee-enthusiast, author of nine poetry collections and a time travel novel, lives on the north Oregon coast where she enjoys the near-constant plunk of rain on the roof and the sea’s steady whoosh. Visit her online at