Colors Against the Night – by Jill Crainshaw

Colors Against the Night

We sit side by side on the top deck step,
the tiny terrier and I,
and consider the stars.

Pyrotechnic seamstresses
pierce heaven's veil with fire-tipped needles,
stitch prismatic threads into a murky sky.
Are bottle rockets and bombastic music symphonious?

A plane crawls across the shrouding fabric
behind the embroidering spray,
wingtip strobes whirling.
What else swims and swirls out there?

A salvo trembles the earth beneath our feet.
Guns, bombs, sonic booms of grief trouble the air we breathe;
lives topple to the ground. When will we draw silence
from our pockets, fire its colors against the night?

I look at the terrier, she at me.
A siren wails.
She throws her head back and howls and howls.

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her first book of poetry, Cedars in Snowy Places, was published in 2019 with Wake Forest University’s Library Partners Press.

Statement by Featured Artist, Shelley Thomas: To my mind, this poem conjures the cosmic crackle of the universe. There is something lyrical and feral in the musings. The speaker goes to the subatomic level of things. I imagine tiny particles of light, grains of sand, every day as a universe unto itself. Pockets of time. Deeper mysteries out of reach and yet all around. The poem summons images of hieroglyphics in the natural world, the secret language of nature that we sense but are still learning to read. The photo was taken along a quiet stretch of beach on the shore of Lake Ontario. A smoothed arm of driftwood washed up on sand at the tideline. Now that bark had been worn during the lake transit, beetle galleries once hidden are now visible. Patterns and lines like filigree, like braille. A desire to read and understand life’s patterns and mysteries.
Art: “Secret Language,” 2016 (‘Secret Beach’ Lake Ontario, Canada)