“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.” ~ Terry Pratchett, from Reaper Man

George Seeley, Black Bowl 1907
“Black Bowl” (1907)
by George Seeley


Two for Tuesday: From Light to Dark and Dark to Light

Within light there is darkness,
But do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
But do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.

~ Shih’tuo, a verse from the Sandokai


Indistinguishable from the Darkness

The dark under the trees is filled with lightning bugs
and because I am in one of those strange moods
I start to think I have found one of the hollows
where the life of the world is created.  There is light
but in the dark circle of shadow under the oaks transformations
take place; small, accurate, invested points of light shiver
and rise wavering above the thin grass. I am in one of those moods
when I need this, this regenerative, tangibly formed
coinage, this dream or perception of the mixing vats
of the earth making out of nothing small light
that might continue to grow and change, become substantial.

The world of this field, sloping to a small black pond under trees,
is empty just now; on the side of the low mountain before me
the constructed lights of houses come on and shine like gold jackets
thrown up into the trees. It is spring and the breeze carries its mix
of summer and spring and the hint of dew that is not so much carried
as woven into the slippage of air; purplish clouds, thinned
nearly to haze, pile against the western rim. I have known
this mood before, and it comes sought but unbidden.
do not translate themselves into negotiable forms—a human
hand, the voice of a loved one. To become known
we must become unknown; the way out, I have learned,
is through. But I do not know
the names of the trees that are just now carefully laying
their long shadows across the body of the pond. The shadows
will lie on the surface of the water all night,
indistinguishable from darkness. It is not a matter
of being saved. I know this.

~ Charlie Smith


Vincent Van Gogh, Four Cut Sunflowers 1887 oil on canvas
“Four Cut Sunflowers” (1887, oil on canvas)
by Vincent van Gogh

Tom O’ Bedlam among the Sunflowers

To have gold in your back yard and not know it. . .
I woke this morning before your dream had shredded
And found a curious thing: flowers made of gold,
Six-sided—more than that—broken on flagstones,
Petals the color of a wedding band.
You are sleeping. The morning comes up gold.
Perhaps I made those flowers in my head,
For I have counted snowflakes in July
Blowing across my eyes like bits of calcium,
And I have stepped into your dream at night,
A stranger there, my body steeped in moonlight.
I watched you tremble, washed in all that silver.
Love, the stars have fallen into the garden
And turned to frost. They have opened like a hand.
It is the color that breaks out of the bedsheets.
This morning the garden is littered with dry petals
As yellow as the page of an old book.
I step among them. They are brittle as bone china.

~ Thomas James