THE QUALITIES OF LIGHT
We were drinking jasmine tea
in the dusk on the cedar deck,
the last gleaming gone to a deeper blue.
Summer blue, the evening star
shooting hard out of the shadows.
Over the pond, the first tiny bats
skimmed the surface for mosquitoes,
drinking from the reflected sky.
The light is always with us.
We know the world by light
and by the loss of light:
the brutality of noon;
the promising grey
before a dawn
creeping with tentative bird song;
the same grey that signifies
a night wildly spent,
where we all hang on too long;
the stab of yellow
through the evergreens
in that last bolt before sunset;
the green flash
when the sun hits the water;
the deep, unknown glow in a woman’s eyes
as she lifts her legs beneath you
and offers a taste of grace;
the sparks when you hit your head
on the high spike from nowhere;
the tangible air in the mists
in a corn field;
or the mountain looking back from
a candy-blue lake in the alpine country.
The memory of that lost lake retained
in the pond beyond the deck
where we sit and dream
the quiet emotions of dusk.
Yes, the light holds us in its hands
until, one day, we catch ourselves
sitting on that deck with our jasmine tea
in fine ceramic bowls; and we realize
we’ve learned to understand fear,
the promise that can’t be kept,
the loamy soil;
the sweet, bacterial earth
where we all began
and where we all go
away from the light.