I find myself in the deep corridor
that would have been dark
if my right hand wasn’t shining like a torch.
— Tomas Tranströmer
One of those idle hours I did not want
To participate in “group,” when it seemed
Impossible I’d know a word to haunt
Again, or make me laugh, or spur that dream
To roam myself the ranges of the tongue;
When on that ward I thought not one aspect
Of anything, no matter how strong, strange,
Or keen, could sharpen the “blunted affect”
Even electric shock had no effect on ...
During one such despondent interval
I read these lines from his New Directions
New collected poems, and the verbal
Sequence somehow composed the correct code
To unlock feeling: corridor, right hand,
Dark, and torch. Even though I suspected
“Torch” an Anglicism for flashlight, and
Not the primitive oil-dipped, rag-wrapped bough
I wanted right then, I quashed suspicion
And allowed the word to spark, flame, allowed
The word to spotlight the Cimmerian
Depths of my head like a guide in Chauvet.
As for “right hand,” it woke a hoarded creed,
Cloud-rafted ascension, mandorla, Day
Of Atonement; it tore to a buried
Hunger for dexterity, and the shame
Of gauche living and sinister desire
(I can’t play right so I’ll give up the game);
It told my coldness a hand could catch fire.
The sentence was enough and has been since.
The deep corridor, the darkness — it’s there
Still, but since that hour there’s one difference.
I’ve hooked myself to some lines from elsewhere.