Doug Van Gundy

The Back Yard by Twilight

These are the hours I love the best:

when the golden light of summer has climbed

to the top of the abandoned building next door


and all of the neighborhood

cats have slinked from inside

the woodpile beneath the back porch


and the cicadas and katydids

and grey tree frogs begin advertising

in the cacophonous personals section of the woodlot


and the dog can no longer

find his ball in the tall grass

at the edge of the darkening oaks


and citronella wafts across the crabgrass and mingles

with the lingering smell from the deep fryer

at the diner at the bottom of the hill


and the air grows heavy and moist

and the sound of the traffic on the

four-lane takes on a veiled quality


and the blue-white of the sun

is reflected in a satellite’s

long aching arc across the sky


and the windows open

and the box fan comes on


and the neighbor’s coon hound catches

the scent of something toothy & wild

and sounds his dutiful alarm


and the faint bruised smell of a skunk comes on

with the throw of the same switch

that turns on all of the fireflies


and the early windfall apples

fall without any wind at all.



“The Back Yard by Twilight” first appeared in Ecotone, Volume 3, Number 2, 2008.