Night on Earth by Mara Lemanis

Night on Earth by Mara Lemanis


Night on Earth


At dusk I put to bed

my daily implements

those lights trapped in

the mobile phone, tablet, LED

and all the volts that peel

my household eyes,

I close down all

and wait.

I wait for

sky and earth

to lie bare-skinned around me

to breathe me into night

into blackness

without shadow

graced by earthshine

from the sun's corona

and the cheesecloth moon's

refracted glow…

I wait for dark

to coax my sight;

to lift my eyes from

daylight squints

and search the

silent shape of night;


Beneath my feet

the soil looks back at me;

like a snake,

a silhouette streaks past,

my sleek cat Rain,

who has not seen me

outside man-made light,

flicks a tiger-eye

at the trespasser in her domain;

without a sound she crouches

over pebbles in the driveway

gray by day,

turned opalescent

in the tunneling dark;

the soil exhales

to draw me to a grove of pines

where a rock circle

sprouts infant sparks

of golden orange, green, blue-green

like unborn fireworks

gestating in concrete

or like the luminescent creatures

that nestle in the Maldives

staining seashores

enamel blue

 beneath night skies;


Beneath the pines

pent up in igneous rock

sodalite crystals

flare orange;

calcite crystals

beam green;

a slab of granite

in the center of

the rock circle 

glints quartz and feldspar;

they are initiating me

into their underworld

of light


grazed by the sun

long before batteries

ever bound circuits;

I am witness to

this underworld

that nightly lulls

the racing day;


Rain prowls to-and-fro

undulating like

a snake in toe shoes;

she stops, crouches before me,

a sentry guarding her kingdom;

she could be the Queen of Serpents

on Mount Ararat

who flouts invaders

with the light from

a stone in her mouth;

It was a luminous stone

more bright by night than day

that guided the Ark through the Flood;

It was the Syrian goddess Astarte

Lucian saw,

her head crowned with a gem

that flashed a light so bright

her temple gleamed

through the night

as if fired

by infinite candles;


Rain darts her tiger-eye at me

pivots loose-hinged hips

into the grass

and stops before an old fence post,

haunches raised,

lets out a growl,

forepaws scratching at the ground;

I hurry to her post

and watch her back

arch into regal shape

as she displays her pride,

a small red carbuncle

luminous, vibrant

stirring memories of windows

in the Church of St. Nicholas

studded with garnets

looking out to sea

shining red

deep into night

guiding sailors to port

on the isle of Gotland.


A gray horizon starts to press

on my black dome

prodding a smudge

of dawn;

I slowly turn,

step lightly over pebbles

that can’t resist

their graying cast;

Rain tunes her hips,

slides next to me,

as we track back

to charge again

the tools of industry

that daily shine in gulags

recast now, redressed

as snug cantinas

hiding the underworld


hiding night on earth.


Mara Lemanis