Refusing the Dark
Tonight, driving home through what might have been
fog or a low cloud, I find myself singing out of habit,
or perhaps out of some antique sorrow I've forgotten, nestled
in the silent space between ribs. The car before me, hidden,
a mystery, like the road itself, all but buried in rivered grey.

Through the windshield, I can see the lights set high
over the freeway, burning like great wheels of fire,
and yet, nothing like the voice of God enters here,
only the lingering whisper of pavement and tires,
that old lullaby full of disappearing and turns.

How things merge unexpectedly. In the wind,
the bright echo of stars, the animal dead congregating
at the side of the road, their eyes fixed in the past.
Everything slows down at the curve. Every heart slips a gear,
and the lungs give out at last. The body empties itself

in such moments, as mine does now in a single note
that trails behind like the memory of fire, the summer
that the hills burned, and the sky, black as spilled ink,
fills with the names of all I did not know I loved,
of everything that comes to the lips to refuse the dark.
About Neil Aitken
Neil Aitken is the author of The Lost Country of Sight, winner of the 2007 Philip Levine Prize, and founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review. His poems have appeared in The Collagist, Crab Orchard Review, diode, Iron Horse Literary Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals.