[a photograph by Linda Connor]
The menace of darkness comes from potential,
that it conceals, possibly, a presence--
threat installed in what we can’t see.
Fear (via imagination
or induction), okay. But conjured
by us from an inertia.
Light, though, is presence
on its own. Look up:
a gauzy intrusion
penetrates the canopy.
We note them as opposites
but while absent and present are like kinds--
pupils in school or not in school-- absence and presence are not alike.
Absence we feel within ourselves,
Cut me off--
that way you’ll own me.
I’ll be contained
(for you) within you.
Light means fuel, combustion,
and thus somewhere a source.
A point in space and time from which
Darkness counters light not by harboring
intent, not by issuing from somewhere
hell-bent to extinguish,
but sourceless it requires
nothing: it’s just what’s left
when waves and particles depart.
I’m told, in anger, that I want
too much to draw the light
To be made bright?
Or to be burned?
The paradox of union—because of you
I am more me ;
because of me
you are more you.
We always used to think, the best parts.
Amity, presence, light: we need these as we need
the antitheses they’re stitched against.
Come sit, so we are touching,
our borderlines adjacent to each other’s:
skin to skin, our skulls even,
your curls beside my temple, and on down
to the muscles of our arms--
we’ll seam each other
and see what’s coming through the trees.
Yet, too, as I grow older, I understand:
for contact, my faith in what the simple
sense of touch can heal: completely insufficient.
Even, generally, a cop-out.
Cop-a-feel, copper mines, the copse where once
we . . .
Feint and dodge.
I know what you would say about my body.
And so to prove it’s neither tool nor chip,
we’ve kept it out of play.
What I’ve learned, and failed to learn:
how not to reach for you. Go dark.
• • •
TO READ MORE BY SALLY BALL, PICK UP A COPY OF VOL 51.4
SALLY BALL is the author of Hold Sway (2019), Wreck Me (2013), and Annus Mirabilis (2005), all from Barrow Street. She is an associate director of Four Way Books and an associate professor of English at Arizona State University. Her long poem “HOLD” has been made into a limited edition artist’s book by Czech printmaker Jan Vičar.