Poem of the Day, April 26: Night Light, Kate Barnes

Pastoral, narrative, deliberately lyrical, the poetry of Kate Barnes is set solidly in the rural Maine countryside, and in the literary tradition in which she was raised (her father was Henry Beston, her mother Elizabeth Coatsworth). There she lives near the house that Beston made famous in Northern Farm, drawing strength and inspiration from the coastal landscape to steady her through the changing seasons of life. These are poems that examine and celebrate the ingredients of our humanity: friendship and wonder, loneliness and endurance, sexuality and unrequited longing, familial ties and the overriding relationship of the individual to nature, to landscape and animals, and to the living earth itself.

Kate Barnes spent her childhood in Maine and Massachusetts, and now lives on a farm in coastal Maine. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Harpers, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, New England Review, and Harvard Review. Buy Where the Deer Were here.

Night Light

Lying in bed in the pitch black, a little breathing

underlies my own;

it is my dog on the floor; we are both alive here.
And I struggle with the old illusion; there is

something else in the room,

a story in the darkness–if I wake up I can

write it down.

It is the light of the purple grape, the deep glowing light
that emanates from my black horse’s flank, the knee-

length, straight,

shiny black hair of the round-faced girl in Sonora
dancing with her groom at the fiesta while all the

aunts sat and smiled;

or it is the telephone pole with Black Beauty stamped

on it, or the thin black dog

named Ink Spot, or the one sleek all-black cow with black


in the herd of Holsteins always a silhouette; it is the

screaming games

of murder in the dark house, the quick uncertain

kiss in the pantry, the running feet;

they are all here in the darkness with me, they crowd

me with their light.

-Kate Barnes

(c) in the name of the poet or assigns. Used for educational purposes and for the promotion of the poet and personal growth of the reader.

Journal Prompt:

  • Write a poem about the light you find in darkness.
  • Choose a color and write a poem about its many nuances.
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