We call it nightfall,
as if darkness dropped
like a velvet curtain.
And it does seem to descend
on the city, where the sun slips behind brick walls
and shadows incise triangles under balconies.
Urban dark moves down through jungle gyms,
falls into the hoods of men blanketed in store entries.
It drops onto laps waiting at bus benches,
sending shadows from bags and briefcases.
Night falls, filling dumpster covers,
settling under parked cars
and drawing dark compass rings
But on the plains
darkness rises from the long land,
the soil slowly cooling underfoot,
releasing black beneath the green
quack grass, the poison ivy leaves,
the stalks of little bluestem and crested wheatgrass.
It deepens the blue undersides of flowering flax,
the purple berries of the buck brush.
The evening spreads upward
along rows of hanging sunflower heads.
It ascends the cornstalk
and traces a sharp line
under each arched leafblade.
pheasants startle up from muted underbrush,
and shadows outline the fringe-ends
of mane-hair, the teats and sagging udders.
Twilight slides under headlights,
along the ditchline. In farmyards
men stride dark paths from barns
as dogs bark at emerging night.
And large-eared deer lift their silhouettes
against the sky’s last bloom
as the dark earth reaches up
to nudge the crescent moon
into its dim position.
This poem has been republished in Gilbertson’s recent chapbook, From a Distance, Dancing (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and appears here by permission of the author.