Dusk fell too fast for me
to appreciate the half-light, the trees
growing in darkness. Sweet-sour smell of rain-wet earth.
Grass a little too long. Golden pricking
of pine needles sewing in
and out of the dark pelt.
I have grown taller
since I first knew this place. But the trees
outpace me, they’ve shrunk the sky.
They join hands with
the night. Have they ever,
ever been so great?
Not even when I was small,
small, and we laughed on our backs
in the snow, under the thatching boughs.
I’ll never not be able to feel that seep
of cold at my back.
Mother, I have grown taller. I stand more here.
But I cannot look you in the eyes,
see your age. Like a stone before which I must
shield my eyes, in the approach.
See the soft brown dappling of age.
Have I ever stood so strongly in my knowing before you?
And so empty.
This dusk flows up
the trunks of the trees again
and again and will never come again.
Diana M. Chien is a writer, educator, and illustrator. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in various literary journals, including Tin House, Boulevard, and Boston Review, and have received awards from Atlantic Monthly, among other publications. She holds a certificate in creative writing from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in microbiology from MIT, where she directs a science communication program.