Theory of Twilight
In his collection Theory of Twilight, Gary Short finds a quiet spirituality in everyday experiences, childhood memories, and natural occurrences. In poems that range in inspiration from a meditation by Basho to the stark landscapes and highways of Nevada, readers travel with Short down a highway where one encounters a schoolyard of students exercising (“scissoring into an X/ then closing to an I”) or brothers playing catch with a football (“the space between us/ filling with darkness”); where the receding glow of red taillights evokes the memory of a father smoking cigarettes in the dark, waiting for his son to come home. In the book’s title poem “Theory of Twilight,” a narrative of how a family comes together at the death of the speaker’s brother, Short’s description of the casketed body is plain-spoken and moving: “His father had touched his eyes closed, mothered / the shock of black hair from his forehead / and made into prayer, finger by finger / the hands.”
The full text of Gary Short’s Theory of Twilight is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
We didn’t know, but now
we can see a balance has tipped
against him. And now that we see it,
there will never be a time
when we will not see it. His face
an ill-fitting mask
rising away from bone. As a result
his dark brown eyes become a voice,
a moment of recognition—
It’s come to this. I have
a new language. In four months
the doctors will open the book
of my body, read its last pages.
In this photograph, the clock
is a remark on the wall.
Outside, the sky falls like seconds,
the rain a consecration. My brother’s face
will blur as he turns toward the window
to look beyond the bare maple, beyond
what he knows, what I do not know.
Copyright © 1994 by Gary Short
Gary Short bought his first book of poetry while teaching history and coaching basketball in Wells, Nevada in the 1970s. He has received numerous awards including the 1993-95 Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. In 1996, Short was awarded the Western States Book Award for his poems, Flying Over Sonny Liston. He now lives in Virginia City, Nevada.