Poem-A-Day Challenge: Day 20

April is National Poetry Month so I’m tackling the Writer’s Digest 2019 April PAD Challenge hosted by Robert Lee Brewer.

Today’s prompt: Write a dark poem. Cave poems, poems at night, and no electricity poems–these are all appropriate for today’s prompt. Of course, dark has several other connotations as well. An underdog is often known as a dark horse, a villain may have a dark heart, and Batman is known as the Dark Knight. Heck, when I was little, I thought Darth Vader was Dark Vader.

Photo by Jason McCann / Unsplash

Photo by Jason McCann / Unsplash


In a dark time, the eye begins to see.
- Theodore Roethke

Maybe it was the solemn arch of pines
kindly bowing their tall heads
to make for me a cathedral of mottled silence.
Or maybe Abbott, or Steichen,
casting the lovely onto those
long-shadowed city buildings, those spiraling haloes of burnt matches,
the scattered tacks lying in their angled shrouds:
always drawing my eye to the hiding of the light.
It may have even been the sorrowing satin of crows
on the rusty November lawn, or the rain
swishing its skirts down an evening street.

Certainly it was the heavy grey of clouds, moving in like a soothing mother,
her quiet bulk edifying and calm, a cocoon of nurture.

All this has taught me to love the dark, taught my heart to
swell to the velvet dance of black and shade. I have seen how it
contours the light, tracing the crucial edges—here, a willing backdrop,
here, bold silhouette.
I have come to know the dark as relief—in the manner of contrast, yes—
but also as refuge: how its sequestering is a way of portioning comfort,
how it can fold itself into a welcome veil
for the tears I’m not ready to show.

The dark is promise: a freighted waiting. Cushioning the letter in an envelope,
holding the careful words; or cradling a growing seed until the explosive bloom.
Even in the empty tomb, content to be
a proclaiming absence, a silent sign the Light
has gone elsewhere to shine.