Aurora Americana

The most interesting thing about emptiness is that it is preceded by fullness. —Joseph Brodsky

She leaves me outside among yellowing
aspens.  Hemlock branches
discarded     dying on this iced clod.

Corms in the ground whiten waiting for another snow.
Fissured face     the skin of me fissured.
The leather of a carriage no longer

fit to front a manor with sequoia moldings
or doors carved in California     shipped
to Louisiana to shut in that house.

Made for another girl now dead.  Her mother
made me out of that tatty carriage-seat leather.
Made me as she evoked her mother’s

country dissolved in seawater.
I’m the leavings of seawater left cold.
Forgotten in cold.

Forgotten in this northern place.
They have forgotten what I have not.
The dark is without forgetting.

That woman filled me with pink
cotton     that annual spell when
cotton explodes that gaudy hue.

I’m holding time in the dark     waiting
for the dappling of sky.
I hear them.

I know them.
They’ll do the thing that wrecks.
They’re unworthy of themselves.

This knowledge wrecks.
But a jester?
That jester?

His brashness     a theory of this land.
A quality encouraged for navigation.
I’m not protected.

Cold     unprotected at night.
Solitary at night inducing 
more creasing     more

staining as they stain themselves     as 
they beg for regression.  As
they beg for the nineteenth 

century     the century I was made.
Hold the clock’s clicking.
Turn it back     make-make America.

She leaves me to see this night.
To see blue televisions through windows.
To hear raucous commentary.

She leaves me to see this night     to
freeze among the frozen.
There’s yellow in the trees tonight.

The girl who leaves me wears 
a yellow dress.
Her boots are white.

I voted for snow     frost     crystals.
I see them falling.
I’ve been falling into myself.

I see myself with myself.
I hold my own hand as I walk through snow.
I walk with my twin.

I wish for a country of twins.
Our slacks are patterned with stars.
We are partisans.

We believe in the belief.
There is only one belief.
There is only one nation.

We are the founders of the nation.
Our blood for this nation.
Our blood in this nation is the nation.

We see it in sunset.
All that we’ve given is sunset.
We aspire to what the billionaire has built.

The lavishness of pink marble 
wild in our sleep.
We want what he has.

We believe what he has is his.
We believe his dream is American.
We believe his reality can be ours.

We believe in oligarchy     ours.
We’re waiting for the chalice    that goddess’s 
slow pouring of shine.

But that frozen doll frightens me.
I’m walking away but I keep 
craning toward it.

Its face of creature     its darkness
on that which is frozen.
I leave it there.

They’re left.  They’re not me.
We voted for snow     its perpetual system.
Radically radical we voted.

He wanted me away. 
I want him away from 
that public house.

In his dream     I’m the boy 
locked in steel.
There’s water in his dream.

I sank.
He saw my hands reaching 
from the steel until they didn’t.

I was a boy.
We were boys.
He wanted to kill the boy.

He wanted the boy dead 
in steel     quickly 
a man in steel.

We became men in steel.
In the paper     he bought our
capture     shouted execution.  

Years in steel.
The sky’s steel here.
It’s cold here.

My daughter is here.
I want her to play.
Be a good girl     play.

I want him away from 
that public house.
How’s he a choice?

Up in Michigan     near Lake 
Superior waiting for spirals     funnels 
of jade     ginger light.

This dawn is near but which dawn?
Which will be created?
So cold here in this north.

The north couldn’t protect.
When has it ever protected?
When has this place protected me?

But I’m trying to protect my 
north     my daughter 
in winter-white boots.  

The breeze isn’t silent. 
I want him away from 
that public house.

I stare skyward yet I see 
the glare of televisions.
My daughter’s fingers are cold. 

My father is afraid 
but he doesn’t say it.
I came in from playing to see 

him     to be around him.  
His hands are colder than snow.
His hands are chapped.

Why are your hands so cold?
The past was cold.  I don’t want 
the past to permit what may come

He embraces me.  The world
is around me.

Snow     strange     I’m waiting 
for something I don’t understand.
Will you wait for me?

I’m here     forever here     around.
He’s angry at the television.
The blue of the television 

is what’s inside him.
If I could open him     an abrupt
door I could open     step into 

the blue     step into to brightness
burning my eyes.  
I’m quickly blind

within the blue of my father.
He mentions     jester.
He mentions     clown.

He mentions     criminal.
He mentions     killer.
Where’s your doll?

I’ve left her without knowing.
Left her freezing     left her among snow
without protection.

I have to find her.
Go find her.
Bring her inside.

My coat like skin     fake fur on skin.
I’m running back to save 
the one I forgot.

How could I forget her?
She has been forgotten before
but I didn’t want to forget.

Everything tall     green
heavy with whiteness.
My father’s upset even 

when there are auroras
above him     above me     above
this country.

It isn’t dawn when she returns.
But I thought if there would
be a return it would happen at dawn

when America shows what she
hides     what she whispers     what
she denies in conversation     what

she calls crazy in public.
I know this place.
I know its makers.

Those with soft 
hands     rough     always
rough who smile 

yet hide tundras. 
Within them tundras with paths
lined with wet spikes.

Something dead on the spikes. 
Something dying on the spikes.
She’s kissing me.

I’m being carried     kissed
among firs     snow blowing.
They will do it.

They have done it before.
Regression     angry at the lie
they can’t keep from questioning.

I’m loved by a little girl
who knows nothing of me.
I want her father to scream.

If he doesn’t     he may die early.  
He may leave his daughter early.  
So many men leave their daughters early.

Don’t be shocked.
Perhaps you’ve left your daughter?
Fissured face     the skin of me fissured.

Does she know what these fissures hold?
Does she know what she holds?
Does she know what 

her father’s holding?  
What he doesn’t say 
when he sees her     when

he sees the jester?
His hands are over his ears?
She sees him on the porch

as if holding his head together.
It could erupt.
It could combust    St. Helens.

Dust     fire     smoke like 
that mountain.  
We’re all combustible.

But first     implosion.
The birches within us falling.
Not the leaves in autumn 

but the trees themselves     falling.
Paper bark     mangled.
The hidden thump     that

crash beneath ivory cages     skin.
This isn’t greatness.
This isn’t noble.  

A terrible enactment in 
the dark     the light     the cold.
She drops me on the porch

to hold her father’s face.
Hold me.


I’m cold here.
Waiting as blue hits my face.
I’ve made a fire.

My son burns marshmallows.  

They’re gooey on graham 
crackers.  Chocolate melts 
on sweet sandwiches.  

The auroras are rare.
I want my son to see the auroras     that 
which is possible in sky.

This was my place as a boy.
This was where my parents took 
me to say this is ours.  

This piece of it is ours.
We feed ducks bread.
But what bread feeds us now?

There’s poison in the bread.
We’re losing.
So much poison     poison

to survive but we 
are surviving without ourselves.
Save us.

Save us with your wealth.
Save us with the way you make wealth.
Fire what’s killing us.  Burn the ground.

Wall us in.  We are being killed.
They are killing us.

Aurora my love     I’m 
waiting for Aurora.
When you come     will we be saved?

Auroras in that sky swirl in the cold.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of….

This is reality?
This is a reality star?
His reality isn’t our 

reality but they believe it can be.
Their reality is fake.
Their false reality exists in their minds.

They are convinced of their reality.
Some realities are based in trickery. 
They want to change a false reality.

But how can they change a reality that doesn’t exist 
other than to change the falseness of that reality 
into what’s actual?  Oh     he changed my reality     that 

reality of innocence to criminal.
My reality became prison.
His fake reality made my reality     my 

reality of childhood to manhood fugacious.
My reality of custody     trial    conviction
was his     the country’s made reality. 

The reality is     it is almost dawn.
The reality is     my daughter is sleeping.
The reality is     this place is now more dangerous for her.

The reality is     auroras are stunning.
I’m staring at the reality of stunning auroras.
I’m in a reality stunned. 

Dawn gleams. 
In my dream     my father is content.
He’s unworried.  

He’s lifting me into cloying light.
I’m wearing a dress of light he has made.
So many are waving at us.

We’re waving back.
A chalice of light was poured 
into the sky.

Snow’s falling.
Snow the color of light is falling
but we aren’t cold.



From Aurora Americana (Princeton University Press, 2023) by Myronn Hardy. Copyright © 2023 by Myronn Hardy. Used with the permission of the publisher.