Waiting for a light

12:39 PM Posted by James Owens


A Note for Visitors to the Restricted District

The streets over there are narrow
because those people
love things that do them little good:
odd cloud formations,
breathless dark-eyed girls,
the rustle and stir
of stiff languages in the day's first heat.

At dusk, each person
carries that day's wound
back to a chilly, ill-lit room
and examines it
the way a child plays with a firefly.

(You know which child it has to be --
she laughs musically
when she chases the brief brightening
over grass slippery with dew,
then she plops down cross-legged,
bent over her cupped hands.
She moves a thumb and peers in,
waiting for a light,
then waiting for the light again.)

Originally published in The Adirondack Review, 2002



Roxana said...

oh, so beautiful, so so so wonderful

I'm afraid I have to come back for a more intellectual comment, right now I only want to play with your images and music, as that child with the firefly :-)

sam of the ten thousand things said...

A world of despair and limitation: narrow streets, things that do little good, odd / breathless, stir of stiff languages. A dark world, confined and limited. A solid juxtaposition to the freedom (or supposed freedom) of chasing the firefly – with its magic and its otherness that such a mystifying thing to a child.

In the second stanza, carrying the wound back to the dim room is a strong image - but comparing that desperate act to a child's playing with a firefly, places the center of this poem on a completely different level - a personal act that is full of wonder and hopelessness at the same time. Wonder at the power of light and a immense sadness that this light, this thing cannot/should not be contained.

A waiting - and again a waiting. Desperate against the coming darkness - in all its forms - and desperate against time - the voice that says "Scout, Jem! Come on in." Enjoyed this piece, James.

James Owens said...

Roxana: If my words can make you want to play like a child, bring you into that state --- then I'm happy, more than happy....

James Owens said...

Sam: Thank you. I think you have read this poem better than I could read it myself.... And we are all Scout and Jem in the end, aren't we?