The darkness keeps its appointment.


Eight o’clock, no later
You light the lamps,

The big one by the large window,
The small one on your desk.

They are not to see by—
It’s still twilight out over the sand,

The scrub oaks and cranberries.
Even the small birds have not settled

For sleep yet, out of the reach
Of prowling foxes. No,

You light the lamps because
You are alone in your small house

And the wicks sputtering gold
Are like two visitors with good stories

They will tell slowly, in soft voices,
While the air outside turns quietly

A grainy and luminous blue.
You wish it would never change—

But of course the darkness keeps
Its appointment. Each evening,

An inscrutable presence, it has the final word
Outside every door.

-Mary Oliver


5 thoughts on “The darkness keeps its appointment.

  1. This poem reminds me of my late mother, who lived alone on our farm for several years. She used to light a lamp or two and switch on the television with a low sound for ‘company’ as the darkness claimed its share of the day.


  2. That’s a Mary Oliver poem I haven’t heard of. I have a dear friend who is alone now and finds lamps a way to keep the darkness of evening away.


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