Notes On An Unadorned Night - Poem by Daniel Nester
after Rene Char
Let's agree that the night is a blank canvas, a station
break, a bridge of a song.
Let's agree further that activities at night—movies,
campfires, reading by a lamp—are all
basically an homage to the day.
I have come to regard these two statements as
contradictory. Let me explain.
First, set aside that one could see a movie, torch a fire,
and read with the sun blazing over us.
The in-between aspect of night need not spark a flurry of
activity, is all I'm saying.
You could do nothing at night! Just lay and sleep!
A Cézanne sketch I looked at last night bears
A big Gallic face, reclining upwards, looks up at three
boxcars on train tracks.
The man's eyes are wide open and unfulfilled.
The two disemboweled deer I saw the night before also
The torsos of both deer were connected to faces, both
I assumed they were struck by trains near the house
where I was sleeping.
Anyway, it occurred to me that as I looked into these
two dead deer's eyes that so much has fallen at
me, rather than simply by me.
I want to be among people. I do.
But I just want the easy parts skipped, for bodies to rub
up against each other, to always feel as new flesh
touches new flesh.
Those deer weren't an emblem of anything. I'm not like that.
I don't need dead animals to mirror my own interior world.
But what I am saying is that the dead eyes did shock me,
and it didn't help things that it was by a dark
And it did force me to feel my own heart bumping fast, me in
my sweatpants and jogging sneakers.
I felt like a damn idiot out there, under the moon with two
dead deer at my feet.
It made me want to go home and watch a big, dumb, funny
At least it did at first.
I turned the movie on, but I couldn't focus.
It seemed as if what I was watching—the man and woman's
looks of madcap surprise, the snappy music cues—were
fake re-enactments. Which, of course, they were.
And then the whole idea of movies, especially watching them at
home, especially big, dumb, funny movies, seemed to be the
stupidest idea in the world.
Watching them in a room with complete strangers, in a dark
room—that's a better idea.
At the theater where I see most of my movies, an employee makes
seating announcements over a PA speaker.
All the patrons wait and corral inside a rope, much like
livestock, until the announcement is made.
We then descend down an escalator, silent, and go into the
My head has to crane uncomfortably to see the screen, since I
have this long gawky neck.
The theater doesn't have what they call "stadium seating."
Another thing about the theater is that every few minutes
during the movie, you can hear the train—the 6, the
D, Q, and F—rumbling beneath your feet.
No one, at least to my knowledge, has complained about this to
It's somehow reassuring that people are going somewhere while
you're seeing a movie with other people.
It's a good theater because the movies there are of a high
quality, and you're with other people who want to see
One time, Cindy Crawford, the famous fashion model, was in the same
theater as me, right behind me and my date.
Everyone tried not to look at her, but of course we all did.
I was on a date with an Irish girl who was an interior designer.
We went to see a movie that took place in Ireland, in a swamp.
It was a very quiet movie, and about halfway through, I fell
The rumble of the trains woke me up.
When I woke up, I at once smelled the Irish girl's hair and saw
the movie screen.
The scene was a little girl, petting the head of a deer.
The sound of a nearby brook was heard in the back speakers.
Cindy Crawford had gone.
When we left the theater, it was still daylight outside.
I was still sleepy.
Submitted by da
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