ONE OF THE EVENINGS

JAMES RICHARDSON

After so many years, we know them.
This is one of the older Evenings: its patience,
settling in, its warmth that needs nothing in return.
So many Augusts sitting out through sunset,
first a dimness in the undergrowth like smoke,
and then like someone you hadn’t noticed
has been watching a long time…

It has seen everything that can be done in the dark.
It has seen two rifles swing around
to train on each other, it has seen lovers meet and revolve,
it has seen the wounds grayscale in low light.
It has come equally for those who prayed for it
and those who switched on lamp after lamp
until they could not see. It deals evenhandedly
with the one skimming the stairs as rapidly as typing,
the one washing plates a little too loudly,
the one who thinks there is something more important,
since it does not believe in protagonists,
since it knows anyone could be anyone else.

It has heard what they said aloud to the moon, to the stars
and what they could not say,
walking alone and together. It has gotten over
I cannot live through this, it has gotten over This did not have to happen
and This is experience one day I will be glad for.
It has gotten over How even for a moment
could I have forgotten? though it never forgets,
leaves nothing behind, does not believe in stories,
since nothing is over, only beginning somewhere else.

It could be anywhere but it is here
with the kids who play softball endlessly not keeping score,
though it’s getting late, way too late,
holding their drives in the air like invisible moons a little longer,
giving way before them so they feel like they’re running faster.
It likes trees, I think. It likes summer. It seems comfortable with us,
though it is here to help us be less ourselves.
It thinks of its darkening as listening harder and harder.

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