Look at the black
slung wide between the night cropped lights,
the distant windows, cars, street lamps
and the single yellow globe
beneath stairs hung from tawny buildings,
its light bleeding onto the rain spattered treads,
this flight where, in a moment,
a figure will step away
from an unseen door, step away
and turn to descend.
Look at the black
night through a wet twist
of bared branches,
lean wintry fingers pointing
to the pools of light
across the river where,
in pools of a summer season
the yellow bill of a great egret
knifed after stickleback.
Now stark against this shadow town
ascended into night,
a dark figure, almost formless
steps onto the balcony and turns,
heads toward the stairs,
and will descend.
Look at the black
where is rush of unseen flood
pushing over the low ford,
rushing where the chat's blackberries,
slashed and piled under afternoon's rain
beside Stroming Road by
anonymous men in yellow oilskins,
and, freed from the black,
a car passes warily, winking in and out
behind the linked buildings,
lights briefly the black figure
which steps carefully onto the wet stairs
and descends toward the shimmer
of the parking lot
across the river.
Look at the black
where Eighth Street falls off the hill
from the courthouse down to the highway
and the yellowed glare
of damp intersections where the wagons
of August evenings will clatter their passengers
up from the bandstand beyond Miner's,
and across to the twin buildings,
with balcony between,
and the plunging stairs
down which the figure must move
toward the blackness of the night.
Look at the black
hollow at the foot of the hill,
where the rain-swollen torrent floods
over the torn vines,
and where a slight figure
light as a schoolchild in the burning sun
of some other January
approached unrecognized.
Now both flood and black lap
at the footings of the of fire buildings
where a black figure hesitates,
steps with caution down the stairs
that drop
from the balcony into the empty lot,
black wherever the rain does not scatter
reflections of the yellow bulb
beneath the stairs, and descends.
Look at the black
of the rain-yellowed sky that lies down
on the town like a spent lover.
There is no sound but the hiss of rain
and the rush of an unseen stream
We do not hear the black form seen
moving lightly down the stairs
from the balcony and the buildings.

© 1997 Jess Morton