Incandescence at Dusk
There is fire in everything,
shining and hidden –
Or so the saint believed. And I believe the saint:
Nothing stays the same
in the shimmering heat
Of dusk during Indian summer in the country.
Out here it is possible to perceive
That those brilliant red welts
slashed into the horizon
Are like a drunken whip
whistling across a horse’s back,
And that round ball flaring in the trees
Is like a coal sizzling
in the mouth of a desert prophet.
Someone has called the orange leaves
sweeping off the branches
The colorful palmprints of God
brushing against our faces.
Someone has called the banked piles
of twigs and twisted veins
The handprints of the underworld
Gathering at our ankles and burning
through the soles of our feet.
We have to bear the sunset deep inside us.
I don’t believe in ultimate things.
I don’t believe in the inextinguishable light
of the other world.
I don’t believe that we will be lifted up
and transfixed by radiance.
One incandescent dusky world is all there is.
But I like this vigilant saint
Who stood by the river at nightfall
And saw the angels descending
as burnished mirrors and fiery wheels,
As living creatures of fire,
as streams of white flame . . .
1500 years in his wake,
I can almost imagine
his disappointment and joy
When the first cool wind
starts to rise on the prairie,
When the soothing blue rain begins
to fall out of the cerulean night.
- Edward Hirsch
(homage to Dionysius the Areopagite)
The Night Parade