Sep 032016

Denise Evans Durkin


…….(for Jean Valentine)

It seems the time of Angels has passed.

I cannot hear them anymore.

Not like I used to.

Listening – that’s what brought me here –
to the middle of this field untended
near a stand of sturdy evergreens – listening
amongst cattails swaying to a southerly breeze.

Blanket, lantern – this is the farthest
I have walked from the house –

into my life.  To hear them again.

To be given direction, like these birds
tuning up in the field.

Early and late; almost daybreak –
this is the hour to be most present, climb
higher, cresting a ridge in the middle of these acres

Now amongst the reeds, the birds
take to the sky, into the light,
all one fluid motion, certainty and faith –

Tell me which way.

Climbing down, back to the flat land
sky opening out – tell me

which way –


…….“My poetry is … a way of solving for the unknowns.” – Robert Hayden

Do you hear it? Slight sigh back of
the wind. Kohl sky opens
into this eternal deep –
comes long after midnight. Stars gather –
lean into my silence.

Walking in the hush, talking to the Lord.

Look at the papers on my desk huddled
under their blanket of dust. Almost
hear the words disappear – blown into
the dry well of what will be forgotten –

Very soon they will be swept away.

Every already known is
a little stand of pine just past
the house –

Aging we birth into this new world –
out in the far field
what matters shines.

This knowing –
like winter-cold tap water –
too soon now it all comes clear –


Winter: Sermon Over the Lake House

I am this wide opaque sky & this ice;
you will respect me.

You will be slow & careful;
you will feel the earth and be grateful.

I am everywhere beside you –
I will lay down night when I like &
you will come into my arms & give me love.

You will cleave my short, dark days to you; pray
they catch you when you fall.

You will feel my cold breath,
recognize all you did not see; shiny black ice –
slick branches bent low & those talking-almighty crows
strutting around the dogwood in my embrace –
telling you to just let go & feel it

Feel it: pearly moonlight casting long silver shadows –
the snow-lit path full of diamonds on its way up
to that lonesome bright star hanging
over this house, eaves bent to breaking
under ice floes – their heft eating
the old wood away.

Beneath this night’s ebony scrim
everything is everything & everything is
equally alright. Breathe again
& remember me halfway out of this darkness –
halfway – when you gather pussywillows
& bend them into crosses
before you & I are done.


……..(after Pablo Neruda)

Cut by thorns of desire
scarred by your love
I have come again to this alone place.

Bare walls, near dark –
safe as stone.

Tea clear as sadness,
love pure as salt

Wind waking the green song
of the chimes.

I go down to the secret river;
I undress the wound.

Baptize me in darkness
Mother of this lonely place.

Do not come too near;
let me bleed and be alone.

I am filled with sacred water;
I am healed –
I grow and fill these bare rooms.

I flow down the avenues
silent as my love –


Chloe does not rest

because you speak her name all day long and
she is called here once again –
bound by a crumbling wall and
the mist of that name you keep breathing –
barely there – and there

She is again taking shape
gathering visible form

I think she’d rather rest

Fold her soft wings
sleep on her side –

I think she’d rather
vanish in the rain again

And stay that way –

—Denise Evans Durkin


Denise Evans Durkin is a poet living in Putnam County, New York. She is a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in Numéro Cinq.


  2 Responses to “Baptize Me in Darkness: Poems — Denise Evans Durkin”

  1. What a lovely way to start my day, reading these calm, beautifully visualized poems of Denise’s. And to see several at once. Thank you, Numero Cinq, and congratulations to you, Denise, on such beautiful work.

  2. So gentle, pensive and meditative!

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