by Jeffrey Essmann
Nocturne I When God first pulled the dark from light And said, “I think I’ll call you Night” And saw that it was good, It then was understood That day and night were both of equal cheer. No, God did not create nocturnal fear. The stars blushed softly in the sky; A dusty pearl, the moon sailed high Through folds of glistening space. This nightly carapace Looked down upon an earth of godly calm Where lion roars were but an evening psalm. But Man had something up his sleeve (Though naked): Adam and his Eve By dazzling light of day To Satan’s ruse gave way, And from the shadow of the Tempter’s tree Was born the night of our anxiety. Nocturne II And it was night, the Evangelist said, The last time the Twelve and Jesus would meet; The streets of Jerusalem dark and dead As He put on the towel and washed their feet: Persimmon and myrrh in the evening air; Somewhere nearby a plaintive prayer, A steady stream that calmly, breath by breath Recalled God’s sending the Angel of Death. And night it was when Judas finally rose From table; night when at the door He turned and saw the loaf in two be torn; And pitchest black when on the street he froze, Then walked into a night that knew no dawn And stumbled on an apple two bites gone. Nocturne III And now in the December deep, wrapped in astronomy and news, I watch and wait as endless night the sorry world seems to eclipse; and in the silence realize that light can sometimes whisper: it has a voice (the same that separated dark from light so long ago so now/so then so always) and still insists that all of it (all of it) is good.
Jeffrey Essmann is a poet and essayist living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, among them Dappled Things, U.S. Catholic, the St. Austin Review, America Magazine, Grand Little Things, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.