Afterward, the walk
to the car, across sheep fields
behind the highway,
over unsettled gravel
through the jostling
crawl of head lights,
the last fireworks
arcing to realize
unspent explosions.

They rock what's left
of the ruddy sky
with flared bursts, music
now gone, the only chorus
accidental birds or a spooked
dog, Sousa's tympanis
long done their resounding
over the valley.

The flicker sprays, the last coughs
over those trying to get home,
out of place, out of time,
incomplete tongues
of earlier conflagrations,
a language at its end.

Headlights now
pull the stars to earth,
sequin the beginning of rain—
that surest way to clean
a sky of smoke.

In this night, washed
of fire, take my hand once
more, step where I step,
know what I know.
Let dark bind us again.