Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Last night you called me out to the December dark
to look up and see what neither of us had ever seen
before: a burnished flock of Canada geese, bent
into a flexed bow and heading south across a clearstarred
moonless sky in silence, winging it
to warmer quarters, and all lit up—like mystery,
I thought, a lit thing bearing nothing but the self
we see and savor but know no more the meaning of
than I know what in the cave of its fixed gaze
our cat is thinking. The geese were lit to the shade
of tarnished gold or dead oak leaves hanging still
in sunshine, or the color tall reeds have when
car-lights stream and splash over them in winter.
And they were—these beings moving as one—
a mystery to us: Why, we asked, their color, who
by daylight are simply black-winged shapes
quickening southwards across a sky-blue canvas?
How could they be lit from below like that, from
somewhere near where we stood on the earth
we shared with them, staring up, the earth that
for this inhabited minute or two must have been
giving off a light that made these creatures shine
for us who were there by chance, with no moonshine
to explain it? Then they’re gone, gone dark, gone on,
though in their aftermath the cold dark we stood
our ground in was for a little while neither cold
nor dark but a place of visitation, and we were in it.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.