Day Twenty-Two: "I Am the Night—Color Me Black"

I Am the Night—Color Me Black

It’s not about whether the man
was guilty or not. It’s about the sick

joy taken in the suffering of others,
the way sight becomes veiled

by assumptions, the literal nightfall
that chokes every ray of light

in this town that gathers to celebrate
a hanging. The sun refuses to rise

and they are all complicit: the sheriff,
his wife, even the pastor who sees

what is really happening. And even
the possibly blameless condemned man

becomes guilty, a knotted sphere of hatred.
And the lesson to be learned, we are

told, is that nothing here can be
reduced to this small town, the fiction

of a small story about a world different
from ours. The lesson, in 1964

and now, is that all of this hate
is entirely real. Nothing has changed

and things have grown darker, and we
have not listened to Serling’s exhortation.

And it seems sometimes that all the lights
are very close to going out.

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