The Ghost Light

Lit from within is the sole secure way
to traverse dark matter. Some life forms — 
certain mushrooms, snails, jellyfish, worms — 
glow bioluminescent, and people as well; we
emit infrared light from our most lucent selves.
Our tragedy is we can’t see it.

We see by reflection. We need biofluorescence
to show our true colors. External illumination can
distort, though. When gravity bends light, huge galaxy
clusters can act as telescopes, elongating background
images of star systems to faint arcs — a lensing effect
like viewing distant street lamps through a glass of wine.

A glass of wine or two now makes me weave
as if acting a drunkard’s part; as if, besotted
with unrequited love for the dynamic Turner
canvases spied out by the Hubble, I could lurch
down a city street set without provoking
every pedestrian walk-on stare.

Stare as long as you need to. If you think about it,
walking, even standing, is illogical — such tiny things,
feet! — especially when one’s body is not al dente
anymore. Besides, creature of extremes and excess,
I’ve always thought Apollo beautiful but boring,
a bit of a dumb blonde. Dionysians don’t do balance.

Balance, in other words, has never been
my strong point. But I digress. More
and more these days, digression
seems the most direct route through
from where I’ve lost or found myself
out of place, mind, turn, time.

Place your foot just so, mind how you turn:
too swift a swivel can bring you down. Take your time
ushering the audience out, saying goodbye
to the actors. The ghost light
is what they call the single bulb hanging
above the bare stage in an empty theater.

In the empty theater of such a night, waking to meet
no external radiance, this is the final struggle left to win,
this the sole beacon to beckon the darkness in and let the rest
begin, this the lens through which at last to see both Self
and Other arrayed with the bright stain of original sin:
lit from within.

More Poems by Robin Morgan