Equal Night by Caitlin Grace McDonnell (repost)

Equal Night

Turning toward
the second half of a century
as the world turns half dark,
and we have not yet lost,
and we’re no longer young,
as our lungs learn to empty
and fill up again, we will look up
away from the small dark mirror
to the cold blue autumn sky.
The bear spotted near my cabin
on my birthday morning
was a small bear, meaning
a mother might be near.
My daughter, whose name
means home,
calls at the time
I was born, at the time
of the equinox, keeps me
on the line while she cooks
and dances, tells me
how to prepare.
If it’s a brown bear,
stay still, don’t turn away.
Clouds part. Cinnamon,
Zinfandel. If it’s a black bear,
get big and loud. Resin,
sumac, wind chime
without the chime.
But if it’s a
polar bear, fight.
Fight for your life.
What will happen next?
Her replacement—
a new precedent.
The bear is waking
from a long sleep.
Get big.
Don’t turn away.

by Caitlin Grace McDonnell

Editor’s Note: This poem has short, disjointed lines that slip the reader into the speaker’s stream-of-consciousness as she grapples with a significant birthday. The last few lines speak loudly, and with consequence.

(Apologies for the resend of the email—typos must be fixed!)


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