We awaken to darkness
The one time I was ever there, the canyon was socked in.
Standing in the viewing station at the rim, the Ranger said
sorry, no hiking today unless the fog lifts before noon. Then,
as if on cue, the sky inhaled, all creation opened, and far as
the eye could see, the sheer handiwork of the gods lay revealed.
"Of the gods," a figure of speech, true, but imagine …
one day something simply gives way and this great blanket
of light takes on a golden cast; the sky to the west blazes up
like holy fire, consuming what's left of the light, settles slowly
to purple, pink, to pearl, and burns out, revealing wonders kept
from us till then by the very light we had lived by. Night: our
slight word for it. Beyond …
And this evening, in that still moment before they took on names
again, two points of light in close conjunction with the crescent moon
broke through the low haze of nightfall and the day's rehearsals, and I
found myself sixteen again walking alone one night along a river on the
outskirts of a foreign town; windows of houses on the far bank casting
yellow trails across the dark water.
Something so simple: How we turn our gaze and find ourselves
nameless in the province of the soul. Far from home, a boy is taken
by rippled reflections of lights from curtained windows on a darkened
shore. Light flames out from celestial fires, traverses a lifetime to appear
above this street tonight -- fossil light -- as a star. Beyond measure, something
stays: traces of an ancient longing, ancient joy.
Jim Bishop of Bangor has taught at the University of Maine in Orono for many years and served as
associate director for Franco-American studies. His book Mother Tongue was published in 1975 by
Contraband Press. An audio collection of his poetry, Jim Bishop Reads, is available from Vox
Of the Gods
By Jim Bishop