FNS: Powerless by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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Every Friday night we feature a short story, essay, personal narrative, poem, spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.

Tonight’s poem is from Susan Clayton-Goldner


When our children were small,
a monsoon ripped through
the desert, downing paloverde trees,
power lines—whirling our plastic
pool over the rooftop.
Frightened by shatterings in the dark,
they rushed into our room.
I lit a candle, told them no
darkness would ever change
the light the way one candle
changes the darkness.

Maybe I believed that then.
Maybe I still do. But tonight
I turn off the living room lights.
Midnight and I sit alone—
contemplate the faces of darkness.
Outside the windows,
stars hide behind fog,
spiders weave their webs,
and moths flap transparent
wings against the pane.

The children are grown now,
their father’s daylight almost gone.
I write to wish him through the storm
into a darkness that will lay
its velvet cape on his shoulders.
I write, hoping our children
will look back and remember that candle.


Susan Clayton-Goldner’s work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, Our Mothers/Ourselves, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released last summer. Her poetry has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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