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The Building of Light

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Mauve mist-shadow cloaks the sky’s
River-blurred, inchoate border.
Dawn’s old story; and light tries—
Not the last time—to devise
           Lasting order;

From first principles assigns
Laws to frame day’s jurisdiction;
Drawing contours, shapes, and lines
From the nebula, it shines,
           Strange as fiction.

Such designs, though, won’t appear
In the plans of a committee.
Look. The moon’s pale-copper sphere
Rings—a gong too faint to hear—
           Through the city.

Let them linger, unawake.
Down the mountain’s wrinkled brilliance
Darkness empties like a lake.
Minted gold, house windows make
           Coins worth millions.

Both in disbelief and pride
All the buildings in the distance
On the river’s farther side
Take up, as the shadows slide,
           New existence.

Shadow slides along the roof,
Past the guttering and gable,
Shrinks, and leaves the house aloof
Where the light reads out its proof
           Like a fable.

Source: Poetry (June 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Building of Light

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