Top of the World Elegy

by Joel Long

for Kay

Daylight stayed all night.  There, rivers
made silver.  We couldn’t sleep.  Our bodies
couldn’t sleep in light, so we stared
at windows to watch the sun spin
the top of the world.  Fireweed cooled
the roadside, pink to purple, a softness
that would hold you up if you let it.

Nights were what we believed our lives
to be, how dream must go on and on,
this wishing into trees, animals moving.
Salmon swim upstream right now, endless,
bright red dirigibles, scaled in twilight
perpetual.  You could step on their backs
to cross the river and not get wet, hold
one, see where it goes, blood orange
belly scraping gravel and slick stones,
sled dogs barking bells from kennels.

When we step in tundra, our feet sink
in dirt as though earth meant just then
to absorb us in wetness, sweet return
with grass soft as air, fragrant green rising
above our mouths so we taste the earth,
its green and somehow become it.  The night
will not come unless we name it.  To fill,
to be full, we become the thing that fills us,
fireweed blooming where fire burned,
fuchsia pouring over the charred dark.

— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 3