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The Hopelessness of Midnight

Donald Illich

As Night it was my honor to block light,
to tell the stars it was time to show,
for constellations to guide the sailors,

alone and adrift, unsure they were loved.
I never thought about Day's mission,
the full force of its sun's brilliant rays.

How it will sacrifice the black clouds
for its goals, scatter their torn sheets
into the bay. How it agrees to be lit red

over the shore where the sky is fire,
and everyone fears their homes are aflame.
I wouldn't have wanted to trade places,

to incur such violence over the earth
instead of shadowing crime between its folds.
I loved the silence before cities slept,

the vacuum of the horizon surrounding
towers and houses, streets and bridges.
Give me the hopelessness of midnight

instead of day after day of hope that leaves
before it can be counted on. I'm proud
to conquer everything but the grave,

a wound in the world that's darker
than anything I could create: a life
missing where once it had glowed.

Donald Illich

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