THE HISTORY OF LIGHT–A POEM

Here’s something a bit unusual, a poem I wrote some time ago. I just realized, I could have given it the title of that famous poem many of us studied in college “Elegy Written In A Country Graveyard,” since that’s exactly where the idea came to me, sitting in the car with Wonder, waiting for a friend to come so we could walk together.

THE HISTORY OF LIGHT

Rachel Pollack

The first thing you see is the house,
square, with a low pitch roof,
white, with tan shutters and a black door.

Matter is light slowed down

And then, just in front,
the trees that frame the doorway,
skinny, November bare, young,
just old enough for the branches
to trace a third story
above the two of the house.
Before that, just a step closer,
the patches of lawn,
rusty green before the ice starts,
a whisper of color to soften the dark earth.

Let there be light

On your right the grass ends sharply,
the stone fence of the cemetery
like the hand of a traffic cop.
On the left the lawn gives way
to gravel, the spillover from the church parking lot.
You see all these things first,
before the scattered gravestones
that stand between your car and the rectory.
The stones are the old-fashioned kind,
thin gray slabs that tilt backward,
as if offended by their lofty children
on the other side of the fence.

If we dug them up,
would we find white bone,
the brown and pink of muscles and organs
long decayed, indigestible whiteness
all that’s left?
White is all color blurred together,
reflected back, as if our bones
reject the generosity of light.

Matter is light slowed down

We see first what is furthest away,
what blocks our vision yearning to escape
the limits of bodies and stone,
and return to light.
Matter is light slowed down,
and all we ever want
is to speed ourselves up again.

Let there be light, God says,
as if God pleads for permission,
like a mother who brings her son
to a noisy playground
and silently asks the tumble of kids
to make room for a shy child.

The darkness never needs allowance.
In the beginning, God created
the heaven and the earth,
and darkness lay upon the face of the deep.
If darkness was the face,
what dead white bones
were hiding underneath?

Let there be light

Matter is light slowed down.
If you could speed up your body,
find a really good spaceship,
break free of gravity and keep on going,
if you could make a run at catching light—
time would slow down,
and you would get shorter and shorter,
and yet your mass, your presence,
would grow and grow, until—
if you could make the jump,
if you returned to light,
you would find yourself
everywhere and nowhere, all at once,
outside of time.

All light is a single flash,
the same photon everywhere and forever,
given permission to exist, that one time,
those four words.
God is speaking them,
right now, to you, to me,
to the damp bones buried
in the cold November dirt.

Matter is light slowed down.

If only we could move fast enough
To finally listen, to know
We are free.

Published in: on October 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This poem is different than your usual, I feel. But it’s really great! The power of a poet to pull from her surroundings whatever is given is truly present in this piece. Thanks, Chica.


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