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.