When the dark

For the dverse prompt.


When the dark is as hot and still as light,

and the moon melts a sliver of drifting ice,

the stars quiver a mirage in the night,

when no birds sing at dawn,

the dew already drunk by heat-parched air,

and the cracks in the broken earth yawn

wider, when sun beats hammer blows

in the midday silence out of the drum-taut sky,

and flowers wilt and nothing grows,

crisped brown, prematurely autumned,

we slow and sigh and long for sleep,

to dream of fountains and waterfalling and

pearls that glow full fathom five.

Will this long night end, earth’s kilter restrung,

or will the keening of the owl be the last song sung?

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

42 thoughts on “When the dark”

  1. Beautifully writ…..can’t choose a favorite line as so many have such excellent imagery.
    This one, I think, “the dew already drunk by heat-parched air,” I especially like. And oh yes, the sun can definitely beat hammer blows! Whew….I need some sparkling water with lime to recover from this one! Well done! Great answer to the prompt!

      1. That’s hotter than it is here at the moment—only 28°C today and we think it’s chilly after four days of between 40-42°. You get used to anything eventually xxx

  2. I was just wondering if you slept with the owls or with flamingos, or if you slept in the earth’s core and felt it’s rhythm beat against your awestruck face…maybe it was the picture, we’d really never know…but this piece should hang next to the picture in hallowed halls such that while we sing to the painter, we sing to the poet that gave it life to breathe differently.

    1. I’m pleased you like the combination. I chose the painting because there’s a strangeness about it, that red sun, the birds awake when they should be asleep, waiting for something.
      Perhaps the whole idea of a midnight sun is an allegory for the end of our world.

      I often sleep with owls and wake with orioles 🙂

  3. Stunning imagery, Jane! I felt the heat in every line. The moon melting ‘a sliver of drifting ice’ and the stars quivering a mirage in the night’ are inspired. The lines that made me gasp with dry heat are:
    ‘…the cracks in the broken earth yawn
    wider, when sun beats hammer blows
    in the midday silence out of the drum-taut sky’
    and I love the idea of vegetation being ‘prematurely autumned’.

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