“Civil Twilight” by Jill Alexander Essbaum


Civil Twilight

What’s left of the last light's been locked out.
Like a bell-booked wraith that's blocked

from the chapel, it haunts each edge of this purlieu
in exile, a plight that the sky won't resign to.

And dusk's hazel eye can't be trusted. What's
near appears distant, while things remote are

fictive. Your kindness comes off as vindictive. And
sunsets are always ill omens, for what isn't illumed

is unknown. When mourning stars are evenings
out, night arrives with a cataleptic halt. Baths,

then battle lines are drawn. I don my darkest
shadow as the blue hour blackens, burns. And

beg you to return.

Jill Alexander Essbaum

Jill Alexander Essbaum is an author of several collections of poetry, including Harlot, Necropolis, and the 1999 Bakeless Prize winning book, Heaven. Essbaum’s work has been included in two Best American Poetry anthologies and in Best American Erotic Poems (2008). Essbaum’s novel Hausfrau (2015) was a New York Times Bestseller, named one of the best books of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Huffington Post, and Shelf Awareness, and nominated for the PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Essbaum teaches in the University of California, Riverside / Palm Desert, low-residency MFA program and lives in Austin, Texas.

Photo Credit: Scott Larsen