And now comes the night

And now the dark come on, all full of chitter noise.

Birds huggermugger crowd the trees,
the air thick with their verper cries,
and bats, snub seven-pointed kites,
skitter across the lake, swing out,
squek, chirp, dip, and skim in skates
of air, and the fat frogs wake and prink
wide-lipped, noisy as ducks, drunk
on boozy black, gloating chink-chunk.

And now on the narrow beach we defend ourselves from dark.
The cooking done, we build our firework bright and hot and less for outlook than for magic, and lie in our blankets while nightnickers around us. Crickets chorus hallelujahs; paws, quiet
and quick as raindrops, play on the stones expertly soft, run past and are gone; fish pulse in the lake; the frogs hoarsen.

Now every voice of the hour – the known, the supposed, the strange,
the mindless, the witted, the never seen-
sing, thrum, impinge, and rearrange
endlessly; and debarred from sleep we wait
for the birds, importantly silent,
for the crease of first eye-licking light,
By the lake, locked black away and tight,
we lie, day creatures, overhearing night.

“And Now Comes the Night”
By Maxine Kumin


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