Submitting this poem as part of dVerse Open Link Night (OLN). Click here to link up with today’s post, or here to find other poems.
The prompt for this poem was called “in the window.” I was to imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. I was to write what I saw and what was going on.
Through distant darkness
neither walking nor running, I was
moving as if a floating camera
toward some spot of light
in a black universe, like one
dot of star, then to a portal,
which I determined to be a window.
A woman was there
on the other side,
in her world of light
from which she looked out.
Her almond eyes stared
and seemed to see into a past,
perhaps mine. Could she see
through me, as if not seeing me,
toward a distant, common hill
in the dark? One she knew well?
She seemed to look but not to see,
her blank blue eyes were calm
Her hair was streaked with gray
atop her oval head, and softly it dropped
on both sides to a mild but wildly
smooth, unyoung neck. Neither naked
nor covered, her body was as a
faint veil with arms that
I could not see,
with hands she never looked to.
Her skin was pale but smooth,
with pleasant facial wisdom lines.
Her eyes seemed neither pleased
nor sad as she stared, deadpan
into the darkness,
as if I was not there, or perhaps,
she didn’t care; with
eyes that seemed to say something
of a storied past looking into
a dark, peaceful future.
Her nose was powder plain
above a mouth that neither
smiled nor frowned, as if she
thought I could not see her
from my darkness through
the window of her light.
I sensed a beautiful love that was
pure and honest, like a mother
for a child; but also, I thought
I could see a longing or an expecting
in her now-graying, moist eyes.
Eyes without tears or regret.
Then I saw that the window was
a mirror of reality. The woman was
my reflection, able to see
only into my past,
the image of the real me.
Or was it she that I needed to see?
A lighter, brighter, more loving
reflection of myself. The side I’ve never met.
See both ways when looking through windows or into mirrors,
especially as metaphors of life. Mind the gaps, the cracks, the wrinkles, and the patina of age.
Everything means something.
Two hundred years ago in London, on 1 January 1818, 20-year-old Mary Shelley anonymously published the first edition of her novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
Mary was 18 when she wrote the book, the genesis of which goes to the topic of galvanism and other occult ideas that were themes of conversation among Mary and her companions, particularly her lover and future husband, Percy Shelley. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron, and John Polidori competed to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Mary Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified. Her dream evolved into the novel’s long-famous story.
The problem with this story is that history, Hollywood, and human imagination have been unfair, if not unkind, and inaccurate regarding Victor Frankenstein’s creation. Even Victor was too quick to judge by outside appearance, unpleasant as it undoubtedly was. In Shelley’s book, the outcome of Frankenstein’s experiment is never given a name, although the creature did suggest that he was Victor’s Adam.
At first, the creation is kind and gentle and only wants to be accepted. The creature was eight feet tall and ugly and he knew it. Yet, he sought life and normalcy, but he could not achieve that due to the fearful nature of mankind, and specifically Victor Frankenstein’s fear of what might happen.
I find it interesting that even in the mind of an 18-year-old girl 200 years ago, the innate goodness of a man’s creation can be judged as evil before ever doing anything but kindnesses to others.
One hundred thirty-six years later, the first human body part/organ transplant is completed. Numerous human lives have been extended through science and organ donations and transplants. I would not say we take that for granted, but we’re getting close and for some tissue, there are insufficient donors. One organ not transplanted is the human brain. I have read that it is the one donation where the donor would be the greater beneficiary in the process.
I wonder how Mary, her husband, and their circle of friends would react to the knowledge of today’s reality, scientific knowledge, and literary fantasy if they could suddenly be here and learn about it.
Lord Byron wrote his poemDarkness about the same time as Mary Shelley wrote this book. Given the nature of the book, the poem, and earth during 1816, I do wonder if his poem came to be for similar reasons as her Frankenstein story.
‘tis a dark world after all.
Skeptically, look both ways,
yet apply judgement of others and their creations carefully.
Mind the gaps in your own humanity.
“You were the moon. All this time. And he was always there for you to make you shine.”
“Was he the sun?”
“No, honey, he was the darkness.”
Darkness was always there
Before firmament formed, she was
Before Earth, Moon, Sun, or Stars.
She was waiting when Chaos came.
Darkness comforts me
My eyes open or closed, her arms around
in sweet and loving tranquil repose.
Touch me softly, my old friend.
More certain she is than the Sun
Who sends burning fire to each day,
With passing twilight she allows
Sun’s return to warm us all.
Before light again warms my soul,
She grants me respite from the day.
She allows my night a chance to rest
In dreams we dance the night away.
As each day ends, she comforts me,
Harbors my soul, balances my heart.
Touch me Darkness when you come,
Grant me peace as you depart.
With resting shadows, I cannot see.
Hold me Darkness, help me mend.
When I’m alone you understand
You are my nature, my old friend.
She gives my spirit a life to spend,
There’s yet Darkness for me to tend.
Grant me courage one more day,
Thank you, Darkness my old friend.
(Bill Reynolds 3/11/2018)
Don’t look both ways, Darkness is everywhere. In the dark, adjust to see, then mind the gaps.
I like this: “Yet it is far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.” From a sermon by W. L. Watkinson. I would add, “Better to love the darkness than to light a candle.” It mixes metaphors, but makes a point.
It was a cold northeastern Pennsylvania night. I don’t recall the day of the week, or even the year, but the season was tucked into that idiom wrongly called, the dead of winter. There’s nothing dead about it.
I was in my teens and still living with my parents. It was late night and snow had covered the ground one day in the early nineteen-sixties. While night, the reflections from the snow allowed me to see everything, although it looked like a blue-tinted black and white photograph.
While all years of my life were important, those teen years are prominent memories. I still recall how I felt then, but now it’s hard to describe. I’ll never feel like that again. The wonderful adjectives of youth applied to me: vital, vigorous, and energetic; yet so did lazy, horny, rebellious, and impulsive. I would not say pensive or thoughtful. Yet, there was that one night.
As I walked through deep snow above my ankles, a powdery white mattress was laid out around me in all directions. The white snow was tinted cobalt blue by the moon-lit night sky. None of the snow was marked by footsteps or car tires. The blanket was pristine. The cemetery across the street was a charming and peaceful sight. I loved the sight of the snow, the reflection of street lights with a wintery halo, the contrast of red brick buildings with lines of white where snow landed. Even boarded-up windows seemed fitting to this natural artistic sight. What I saw made me feel good. I was happy, but thoughtful about what I saw.
If anyone saw me, they might assume I was lonely. I was not. Never. While my teen years presented me with daily challenges, feeling lonely wasn’t one of them. Even back then, I treasured my alone time. I have searched for more nights like that one, but I will never discover such a night again. Nature’s art is often so fleeting.
I may have been troubled by any one of the issues I thought life changing. Today, I recall few of those traumatic teeny-bopper problems. But, I can still visualize the night. While I have long since been free of my adolescent burdens, I remember. I didn’t feel cold. I felt both my pending freedom and a connectedness to my surrounding, to the night, and to the silence. And to the darkness, the light, the snow, and a sweet silence only night offers.
I was wearing plain old brown leather oxford shoes and white socks. My pants were a bit too short and much too snug: a style of the times. Adults thought my hair too long. It was a little greasy, and it hung down to cover part of my face. I didn’t wear a hat. My outer layer was a hand-me-down, black, Navy-surplus pea coat – unbuttoned and hanging open. The collar was up.
As I picture that night, I feel my experience. That not-to-be-forgotten night was like a photograph taken with my eyes and ears, sensed with my tongue’s taste buds. I could smell the clean crisp aroma of the night air. It is imprinted in my memory: a serene moment, fifty-some years ago. A semi-normal teenager, I realized that something remarkable was happening around me. I liked it and I wanted to share it with you.
The day’s white powder parted like a soft curtain as my feet gently led me forward. Sidewalks, streets, and any surfaces open to the sky were topped with the blueish flakes. No cars passed. The plows would not be out until early next morning.
Months before this night, trees had lost their leaves. Now, white fluff-covered bare branches stretched skyward like arms reaching to catch descending flakes. Evergreens bore much thicker and fuller sparkling white coats over their needles, a weight they endured with their strong, flexible, down-sloping boughs. I sensed a soft chill as a gentle breeze brushed the powder from trees onto me.
As snow clouds passed, I saw the clear night sky of spiritual proportions. A nearly-full moon illuminated the earth with light reflected upward by snow. Even with the light in the sky, billions of stars floated above me, while below them the sheen of fresh powder glistened. I was so young, yet I intuited the unimaginable enormity of what was around me. I could sense the sheer winter-night beauty of it all. I felt comfort in that notable moment. The night and the silence were etching a memory no artist or photographer could duplicate.
The silence was purposeful and reasoned. A quiet so intense the night air was a sharp penetrating stillness that muted other sounds. All was perfectly still. No movement, not even a hush. It was an absolute quiet: a silence so powerful I imagined intense peacefulness within me.
I stopped. Didn’t move for a long time. I listened for sounds of anything, silent sounds. I heard nothing but silence itself. Very still, breathing shallow, listening intently to what was the most peaceful moment of my life as my personal Sounds of Silence came from nature. I was with my friend Darkness, where I felt destined to be. I experienced sensual pleasure in the absolute beauty of that cold winter night.
I saw silence in the stillness as nothing moved. The world had stopped. I tasted tranquility as the clear, dry night-air slid over my tongue. As the still coolness flowed into my nose with its chilled crisp fragrance, I smelled a fresh aroma only nature could provide to a young mind open to such images. I have aged. But, this memory remains set in the mind of a teenage boy.
Slowly, I started to walk a bit farther. Then stopped again. I knew this was exceptional. Then I walked more, and I stopped again. I do not recall walking away or going home. The memory leaves me standing there, taking it in.
I didn’t know that this memory would be discovered and retrieved by my muse over half a century later. Said she, “Up now, Lad. And write in yer book, before ‘tis lost again in the disorganized gaps of your mind.”
If you have no time for the video now, please come back to watch it. It’s worth it.
Live in the present, but look both ways, to the past for who you were, and to the future for who you’ll be.
Mind the gaps, but fill in where you can.
The silk soft, black cloak of night rolls
To end our days as it marks time passing on earth.
Night slips over us like a gentle silk shawl,
With the sparkle of stars and the silence of all.
Be comforted when midnight comes,
As it’s the darkest of times.
The death of this day marks a spell.
The birth of tomorrow’s new hope.
Soon the witching hour begins as so
Little good happens, post the final hour.
To some, midnight’s a time of painful suffering,
As with the line between life and death.
Find peace and warmth in the face
Of the change – the end of one day.
But for another we live, and then
Feeling recharged we’ll be free to see.
After our true self is off,
Without lie or pretense,
To bargain away the universe,
To have a brand-new day.
We must pass through the portal
Of darkness, and woe.
Thus, awakening of the new.
Look both ways each new day, and mind the gaps at night.