Lex Runciman: "August Night"




Sun down after a long day of sun,

eastern stars come on, but not like lights

—you never see the moment.


I remember in another time and place

a neighbor dead now asked a young boy

at about this same hour and time of year


What do you see?  The boy frowned.

Nothing.  Stars counting as nothing—

too many, some with colors,


no one of them the same brightness or place. 

I was sitting on lawn in front of our house. 

He had walked out his garage next door. 


What do you see? 

I see a man with baggy eyes, thin hair,

a kind face I summon now. 


What do you see, he asked me. 

I didn’t say energy or mystery,

a distance untravelable, light years. 


I’d not yet seen Saturn in a telescope’s eye:

it looked like a hat for an utterly round head,

an odd hat resting on a brim.


What do you see?  Night.  A quiet street. 

Mr. Mitchell and his wife, childless,

the two of them their own company.



Lex Runciman has lived most of his life in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Starting from Anywhere is his fourth collection of poetry, following Luck (1981), The Admirations (1989), which won the Oregon Book Award, and Out of Town (2004). A co-editor of two anthologies, Northwest Variety: Personal Essays by 14 Regional Authors and Where We Are: The Montana Poets Anthology, his own work has appeared in several anthologies, including From Here We Speak, Portland Lights, and O Poetry, O Poesia. He is Professor of English at Linfield College.