Poetry Sunday: “Walking Through the Grass at Night,” by Ellery Akers


Walking Through the Grass at Night

Past the basketball ring that sticks its face,
lonely, into the harsh light,
I walk quickly over the loud cement,
put my hand on the cold flank of a boxcar,
and as I step off into the deepest field
the grass puts on dark gloves to touch me.

A car throbs down the street and is gone,
one red light blinking.
I am alone. The odor of dark is all around me.
The cicadas are shrilling: their throats are lined with water.
It is almost November, and I am twenty;
I swim toward this loneliness with both arms open.


From Knocking on the Earth (Wesleyan 1989) and reprinted here with permission of the press. The book can be ordered here.


Ellery Akers is the author of two collections of poems, Knocking on the Earth and Practicing the Truth, as well as a children’s novel, Sarah’s Waterfall. She has won 13 national writing awards, including the Poetry International Prize, the John Masefield Award, and an Independent Publisher Book Award. Her poetry has been featured on National Public Radio and has appeared in such journals as Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, The Sun, and The American Poetry Review. An award-winning artist as well, Akers exhibits her artwork in museums and galleries nationally. Her website is elleryakers.com.


Poet’s Note

I’m a nature lover, and I often hike in the evening. I love everything about night: the smell of damp grass, the shrill of snowy tree crickets, the constellations with their cold and beautiful lace. At night everything drops into its simplest form: an oak becomes a pole with a clump on top, hulking in the dark, and there are no details, no veins on its leaves. It’s just tree. The rock is just rock. In the dark everything is reduced to essentials, and I feel clarified, too.

Listen to the author reading her poem here. Read interviews with the author here and here.

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