Jeanne Wagner, "Civil Twilight


CIVIL TWILIGHT                               

I think of it as civil, loving the way dusk 
seems forgiving, deferential,

the skyline limning the Bay, our nights
too bright on the Dark-Sky Scale.

The water steals itself away, diffusing
its steely gray mass,

innuendos of salt and sea-sting.
Only the hard slap

of surface remains, what the suicide finds
after seconds of falling

through quiet contritions of air. What
is the difference, then,

between dissolving and disappearing?
Everything lost is measured

by degrees of dispersion and light.
We, the beholden,

the trees falling in the forest, needing
to be heard, to be seen,

Be civil, my mother would say at the table,
chastening our reach,

our eyes.  Windowpanes holding
the dark.


Jeanne Wagner is the recipient of several national awards, including the 2013 Saranac Review Prize and the 2013 Thomas Merton Award. Her poems have appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Cincinnati Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry. She is on the editorial board of California Quarterly. She has five collections of poetry, the most recent, In the Body of Our Lives, was released by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2011.