The Friendly Dark

I like the dark. It’s friendly.
Simone Simon in “Cat People” (1942)

Heavy June rains, my birthday—mushrooms,
pleated death-caps, I pluck, from the roof gutters.

Born the day after the solstice, I used to
love this period, the longest days of the year.

Light like bravado! So many hours of light, & my
birthday; surely I must have chosen this, been meant for it.

But then I thought: you’d have to be dead
to have that much light, all at once.

In fact, that’s all the dying talked about—
that brilliance that tugged at you like a magnet

so you could never reenter the box of your body.
That’s when I learned to be like my mother,

to befriend the absence of light, welcome
blackouts like blue-moon guests: think of the power-outage,

post-hurricane nights, no school or TV, when she & I lived
in the glow of melting tapers—a controlled burning, only

milk & bread to eat, but consider all the good, endless books before us,
& death to be snuffed out whenever we pleased.

Michael Tyrell lives in New York and teaches writing at NYU. He is the author of the poetry collection The Wanted (forthcoming from The National Poetry Review Press) and his poems have appeared in Agni, The Canary, Fogged Clarity, New England Review, The New York Times, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Sycamore Review and Yale Review. With Julia Spicher Kasdorf, he edited the anthology Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn.