In the Dark by Phoebe Nicholson

Night Cross by Ashley Owens
Night Cross by Ashley Parker Owens

I come by your lab
late afternoon.
You were still working on a machine
that mimics the movements of maggots.
You have mapped out
the joints of ants, crabs, insects who
work in the dark.
You map out the light only they can see.
I try to see it too
through your chalked math,
where you point out the connecting wires.
When you take my hand,
I feel your fingers cramped from
pulling little feet into place.
You will try to explain the equations,
but they won’t translate to me
though I wish they would.
I wish they would so
we could speak in code and calculus.
I would make you less alone
in the blackboard blackness.
We would tangle together
in the spiny diagrams of textbooks
flapped open on your desk.
But I do know the dark.
I know lightlessness.
I met you when my chest was
a wide, open roar.
I met you when our blackness matched
and monotone and monochrome
made sense.
Black coffee and clockwork,
the lab felt safe.
It is physical and plain.
The monoliths in the entrance hall
run with even holes to trap the echoes.
My ear pressed to it,
I hear the bottom of the ocean.
I hear deep space,
your breath held when you kiss me.
Deep space, you say, is a wide mouth.
You explain what moves in the gloom –
the points of light only some can see.
Deep space is an open roar and
far from empty.
Used to lose hours to the pit
in my chest,
now lose hours with you
sifting the black.
You point out movement,
the life that spites the darkness.
Phoebe Nicholson is a poet and trainee lexicographer based in Oxford, England. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and e-zines, including The Fractured Nuance, The Interpreter’s House, and Words Dance. She recently collaborated on a chapbook with her sister about roots, family, and creeping things called Red Devon Mud. It can be found here:
Ashley Parker Owens is a writer, poet, and artist living in Richmond, Kentucky. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University, and an MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University.

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