The Aurora Borealis Reached Cleveland Last Night and All We Did Was Watch His Dark Materials

I didn’t know! Auroras float

for seconds where eyes live the longest

during new moon or at the waxing

or waning.

When I look into the finest particles

my body is transported to that curling path —

spirals of green, pink, now and again

a red, a shimmering translucency,

the sun’s own legacy —

the energy from the past

meet as ethereal luminescence —

goes but never falls back.

It stays, perpetuates.

but not forever —

as though suns’ lives

are forever

in our own plane

our own fractured biplane.

Millions of eons coalesce into

a slice of this

a slide placed onto a projector:

return to art history class

the century

oil on canvas

or mixed media

personified, it grows limbs

and my heart makes contact

grows the same neon hues

I always found mesmerizing

up there

in the sky

pink isn’t that unusual, then — 

a watercolor maze of paths

a cirrus sunset.

Now I’ve backtracked

to when

it’s light

not dark.

But at dark, it’s light.

I’d known something was amiss

teetering on rocks as

the lake turns to glass

as the water hasn’t frozen over

this winter.

March will be vicious

and a balmy afternoon will

feel like light years away

until that afternoon sits

like lily pads on a pond.

The frog leaps off, and that lily pad sinks

the mercury falling to a negative space

where gravity fails

where senses explore

where life begins.

Kevin A. Risner (he/him) is the author of Do Us a Favor (Variant Literature, 2021) and You Thought This Was Just Gonna Be About Cleveland, Didn’t You (Ghost City Press, 2022).

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