Driving Home

Between the jake brakes and exit ramps,
I consider the color of light
outlining the tree line ahead.
In this early off-black,
the deer on the shoulder
are invisible
except for their eyes.

What’s left of the October sun,
held briefly in the top fronds
of the distant spruce and white pine
are somewhere between fire-gold,
doe-brown and maple-orange.

The digital sign in the median
flashes: Amber
Yes, amber, I think. The setting sun
is amber light. The clouds:
flecks of trapped air in the resin
of an ancient sky above these crushed hills—

And Alert, like deer
watching traffic, like a girl
with just-brown hair minus sunlight
in a silver-blue Toyota.

Steel cornflower,
fossil sapphire.

Flat dark earth,
battleship, black plague.
These are the color names given
to things sold as fire and arms
and protection,
what remains
when the last light disappears
into the mountains.