Dusk reflects dawn much as
dawn reflects dusk, and it is
our fear of night and deep need
for direction that sets them apart.
Imagine a photograph of the sun
hovering just over the horizon,
compass-less we do not know
what preceded, what will follow.
We prefer day and dawn, for
it is then we feel in control,
our thoughts leashed, our fears
locked away from sight and touch.
Dusk promises only night,
the darkness where our fears
find corners in which to hide,
only to spring out unwanted.
So we turn away from the sky,
unsinged by its flaming beauty,
hide ourselves from and in fear
as nature laughs at our foolishness.
A singe egret sits calmly
on the lowest branch of a long
barren tree, where hours from now
a thousand birds will arrive
for still another evening and night.
He stares at me as I am mindfully
vacuuming, watching carefully.
I pause and ask if by chance he
is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck
and peers around in all directions.
I repeat my question, and he
lifts one wing, which I know
to be his way of saying, “I,
like you, am imbued with Buddha
nature, and I with mother
nature as well, and if you doubt me
ask one of the countless
Bodhisattva who will arrive
in hours to study the Dharma
well into what will be a wet night.
From twenty stories up
the fully fogged sky,
a translucent gray curtain
hung from an angry black ceiling.
and the streets below fade
into misty oblivion.
Even the approaching dusk
sits back in wonder.
They sat on the bench in the park
looking out on the small lake,
two ducks swimming slowly in circles.
“Dawn is the most beautiful moment
of the day, the sun chasing the moon
and setting the sky ablaze,
orange, crimson, flame, there
is simply nothing,” he said,
“in the world quite like it.”
“It is that, but it pales compared
to the beauty of dusk
and the setting sun retreating,
the clouds painted by the master
in orchid, fuchsia, and a depth
of pink only the sun and clouds know,”
she replied, “and each day is different.
An old monk walking by bowed,
nodded and softly said, “but look
to the sky on a cloudless night,
see the moon reflect all the sun
has to offer, all the colors
in the spectrum are there if you
only close your eyes and see them.”
Dusk is that hour
when the mind and eyes
mark the slow transition
from light to dark.
As day slides off,
things that were obvious,
things that once were simple,
grow in complexity
until the intricacy
threatens to overwhelm you.
When night fully settles,
sanity returns grudgingly
and the memory of dusk
is but a pebble nestling
the bottom of the pond.
As the afternoon fades,
the gray of the sky deepens,
the crows gather
in the highest branches
of the older trees,
until the leafless branches
seems suddenly burdened
with great black leaves.
As the already waning light fades
they take up their hymns
to the passing day, approaching night,
and we wait patiently
amid the cacophony
for the final refrain
of this solemn Mass,
when the oak and maple pews
will again sit starkly vacant.