Evening Walk – a poem by Sarah Tate

Evening Walk

Gathering clouds like bunches of fat above. 
Gray, wavery, a reflection that trembles. 
The leaves droop down around me, hundreds
of sinners shivering at the steps of the temple.
It smells like rain, asphalt, an old memory, even. 

I will always be afraid of my parents dying.
All those theologians in books
writing about death gentle-like,
but I’d love for grace to thunk me on the skull
if it meant answers written on the walls. 

At least the puddles have gathered politely 
against the curbs. I walk with my fingers 
curled like I’m holding a cigarette. 
For looks, for the plain sense of it, just to cope. 
I won’t to avoid gums lined with licorice black,
and no sermon ever taught me how to smoke.

Forever it seems God speaks words
through the sounds of extinct birds, 
and eternity hides like a cricket in the bush. 
Like death is an expansion of life,
and I want to laugh at that joke
because who thinks so 
staring at an earth-mound filled to the brim
with memories roaming like ghosts?

Three crows chime at me from the power lines. 
A bad omen, those squawks, if I believed so. 
I pass a string of bushes on the walk, their red
berries match flames among the shadows. 
Clouds break, and sunset nestles on the horizon, 
a bowl of blood-red swaddling the earth. 

I don’t know what I mean. I am the leaf
that trembles at the bottom of the temple stairs. 
I am undone by questions that have no shape,
words like rabble thrown in the gutters. 
Has that really settled the matter?
Who but God knows how the force of disorder
also means a sense of plenty—
bridges strangled by vines, clearings 
dotted with wildflowers like flames, 
the pale blue network of my veins. 

Streetlight shadows stretch over my head,
and the last bit of light slinks away 
before night’s iron seas roll in, 
but the light will spring lively again. 
All the answers will finger the walls,
as if the poetry of the earth, the sounds of God,
are those three birds chiming on the power lines, 
framed by fading gold, dusty and blurry, 
like three old dimes lifted to the light. 

Sarah Tate is a writer, a poet, and a life-long student of literature. Her work has previously appeared in Calla PressHeart of Flesh Literary Journal, and LAMP. She lives in rural Virginia where she especially enjoys long walks and contemplating things she doesn’t understand. 

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