As Light

by Devin Kelly

At night the old Russian farmer plows once more
the row of barley before whispering goodnight,
spokonoy nochi, to the tomato plant tilting liltingly
in the plot beside his cabin. & so it goes. This day
dims its shining to a simmer that simmers again
into the cool paste of dark. I am waiting to die
every day. It is okay. You are too. When it comes
I will not be ready. I am learning instead, a little bit
better, how to live. Come sunlight, the old Russian
wakes & whispers good morning through the small
crack of window. Dobroe utro, he murmurs toward
the plant, & the plant bows one near-purple & bulbous
tomato as if to greet him. It goes on like this, you
know. The greeting & the singing. Your lips pressed
against the cold. The finely-tuned harp the spider
plays beneath the surface. The people, & how they
came, & how you did not know what to say. Still
don’t. So each morning you woke & spoke soft
to the easy listener that is the wall. & took photos
of light but did not know who to share them
with. Never knew what to make of the way this,
all of this, will go on without you. If it comforts
or if it harms. The old Russian farmer breaks
for lunch & holds the strawberry in his mouth
just a second longer each day. He holds it for hours
now. A lunch spent marinating his tongue in fruit.
He has earned it, but does not need to say this
to himself. As you might. As I most surely would.
He only sits in the high light of noon & makes
a kind of wine out of the inside of his mouth.
& smiles. Nods. Becomes, for a time, as close
to earth as God. Which is to say, so close to earth
he transcends it & allows himself to remake
the universe, over & over again, all of creation,
until the story goes that the moon rises & he knows
her name & says hello & the tomato plant beside
the cabin is the brother he lost in the war & each
strawberry, well, something about love, yes? Good
morning. The day is a memory we journey through
until we learn to call it home. In whatever language.
However long it takes. The people are here & we all
will go a little crazy. It happens. But this world
is good to us. I nod to the sky & it responds with
rain. I miss your kiss but find an old one you gave
trapped on the inside of my eyelid. I close my eyes
at night & somehow, for no reason, all these
pictures come to life. Sometimes they scare me.
That’s okay. I wake & everything is changed without
my permission. How beautiful. Someone else calling
all these shots. & then I bend my head to the side,
confused, at times, by beauty. I once thought all good
things must end. But this doesn’t. It goes on & on. & so I
was wrong. Nothing dies. It comes back as the old farmer,
the plant beside the cabin, the moon arcing at night
between the rough map of the stars, the fruit held in
the mouth, & yes, & yes, & yes. It comes back as light.

Devin Kelly is is the author of In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (CCM), and the winner of a Best of the Net Prize. He is the Interviews Editor for Full Stop and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City, where he lives and teaches high school.