‘How Far Does Night Have To Fall?’, F.J. Bergmann

Illustrations © 2016 Cécile Matthey

 [ Night, © 2016 Cécile Matthey ] Night didn’t want to go anywhere.

It would rather have stayed home, but they came
to fetch it, barely allowing it time to pack.

They gave its tall black house to someone else
and burnt what it left behind.

It waited at the station for a conveyance
that would take it over the edge.

Dawn’s tall bright ship was coming in;
morning left in a steam-powered carriage
while afternoon’s hot-air balloon slowly filled;
evening, in a white silk scarf and aviator glasses,
watched a speck in the sky grow larger.

But none of them would speak to the night.
It sat slumped on a wrought-iron bench
next to its traveling-trunk.

The book it had brought for the journey
was printed in silver ink on black paper,
in a language the night did not understand
very well. The ticket was printed in red ink
on red paper, in a language that night
did not understand at all.

A distant whistle rose in pitch;
a cloud of sparks flew up on the horizon.
The silver rails diverged as they approached him,
then narrowed in the opposite direction,
toward the perilous edge of the world.

Night wondered whether the train was
running on time, whether anyone would meet it
at its final destination, whether
it would be welcomed.

It thought the falling might be difficult
to observe from a distance,
might seem longer or shorter
to those watching from the outside.

Nominated for Rhysling Award 2017.

© 2016 F.J. Bergmann

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