When Night Comes

by Daniel Lusk

In the wide and ordered countryside
where I was born, night seemed
to come as the great shadow
of something passing overhead

a premonition as familiar as
that hailstones will follow
the white breath of thunder,
the veil that hides its angry face

that outside our house by the road,
between the outhouse and empty corncrib
where the barn owl recited
her daily liturgy, shadow

that in summer climbed down
the avuncular maple in our yard
or in winter clambered down
our windmill’s frozen rungs, obscuring
neighboring farms and snowbound fences
as it came over us.

Here in the woods night deepens
under plumes of Goat’s Beard, among
the feathers of red roses,
yellow Heliopsis, Doll’s Eye bane,

ascends the gleaming trunks of birches,
hazel, hornbeam, oak, pushing the last
gilded lamplight of the sun up our cliff, skyward,
even as it vanishes behind the western ridge

until at last it opens its threadbare tunic
to show the stolen jewelry of the stars.