Statues in the Park
Toward the end of the day & wishing
again for daylight. What’s discernible is
evening’s impending gloom. If we’d admit it,
this is a sad occasion:
us perched at separate ends of a park bench;
block-headed statues in the dark looming
behind us holding so dearly to one another.
This is what makes art. What art makes of us:
models for statues battling stubbornness.
We try to one-up the other without too much effort,
since that would lessen the impact
of the plan. Which would be what, exactly?
To wax sullen in the afterglow of day gone awry
is to hold our tongues as best as we can.
As for these statues, they bear no resemblance
to any human frailty; though their actions speak
as much about truth as any whose skulls are shaped
to resemble childish drawings of perfect squares.
Perhaps this suggests there is kindness
in our obstinacy — each of us somehow regarding the gift
of winning as if it were the daily courier
arriving with news the earth is no longer a viable place
to live. An absurdity, yes; though a game two men can play —
holding & holding on, as if forever, to silence,
fearing what becomes a man who
clings only to what’s left standing.
Copyright © 2022 by Darius Stewart. Excerpted from Intimacies in Borrowed Light (Eastover Press). Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Darius Stewart is the author of three chapbooks, including The Ghost the Night Becomes, 2013 winner of the Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Competition. His poetry and creative nonfiction appear or are forthcoming in The Brooklyn Review, Callaloo, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, and others. In 2021, the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame honored him with the inaugural Emerging Writer Award. Originally from Knoxville, he is currently a Lulu “Merle” Johnson Doctoral Fellow in English Literary Studies at the University of Iowa. He lives in Iowa City with his dog, Fry.