Rolling Blackouts Susan Cohen Poetry

local_library Rolling Blackouts

by Susan Cohen

Published in Issue No. 56 ~ January, 2002

In those dark days, night gnashed
to the cries of wolves.  After sundown,
a black iris flowered in every open eye.
Around a fire, someone invented
song, while light shifted shapes,
turned trees into demons,
hair into halos against a rock wall.

          Then they must
have looked
into each other’s under lit faces, the mystery
of coals. They had to see darkness patched
behind every bush, how each quartz boulder
wore its noose of moonlight.

And during the moon’s rolling blackouts,
what could they do? They had only stars,
the sea’s phosphorescence, lightning, fireflies,
aurora borealis, the itinerant flicker of marsh gasses.

Though they knew each species
of light, they couldn’t hope or pretend
to keep everything bright.

In the dark, they wore their fear and wonder
outside like fur. What else could they do
but wonder, when they understood so little?

Just that the fire would burn down, leaving ashes.
Just that they must clutch each other blindly,
their fingertips groping for language, and later
a baby would be born, crying.

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Susan Cohen is a journalist based in Berkley, California, where's she's been a professor at the UC Berkely Graduate School of Journalism, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News book section, and a contributing writer to The Washington Post Magazine. Her poems have appeared in The Comstock Review, Poetalk, The Sow's Ear Review, Thorny Locust, and Tucamcari Literary Review.