Poetry

THE EFFECT OF LIGHT

1. This Small Light

A candle is lit
And standing there
You freight it
With hopes and supplications

It flickers
With a pup’s confused
Instinct to please
Though it cannot understand you

Your gambolling flame –
Never grave
Though it continues
To keep faith

With its master or mistress
Even after
You have concluded your practice
And returned to the street

If I stare long enough
At that light in its line
It’s like noticing
A particular chorine –

Soon it is significant
I forget
The look-alikes framing it
Having lit

Some deeper
Desire
Even if this only
Stands for it

When Peter O’Toole
Blew out his match
It became the desert sun –
And so I go, trying to blow

This small light
Into a larger one

2. Bombers’ Stadium, sunset

In the late afternoon
The sun
Looms huge
Behind the Bombers’ stadium

I
Describe the circle of the ground
The cool moist air
Pooled
on the grass
Intimating evening

The lean
Brown shanks
of the men in training

While
Behind the stands
The sun
Dipping and reappearing

One minute clear King
of the
Western sky
The next he is obscured
Diffused through broken windows

An Adam’s apple
Pressing out
and then
Ducking
Taking refuge

I begin to think that I
Can keep it
In the sky
Set the oval spinning
If I round it in time

Hold it like a bowl
The sun
A slipping yolk
That cannot climb the curve
Up to the lip

But my completed revolutions
Do not keep it
In place
The horse leaps the fence
and out of the race

Beneath the line of sight
Until I’m
No longer able

To characterise the light
The deep dark bloom
on everything
The players’ calves no longer shining

I walk home
through the falling evening

3. Timer Switch

It’s different when you live alone
Careful to say “we”
When I answer the phone

The rooms fan out
Each with its wires and carpets and lights
And I only can sit
In one at a time

There’s not much to stop them
In a woman alone
These crims train their sights
And look
For the homes
With solitary lights

It’s the signal
I emit
An admission
Of defeat
And these men prowl the suburban streets
They might pick up on it

So I put things on a timer
I can be
Sitting at night with the TV
A light goes on
In the bedroom
Just as if there was someone there

The wires get some exercise
The carpet restored
To colour
And I sit there
With Daryl Somers
In a companionable low hum

Outside
The house is sentient
Holds forth against the dark
The crims
Count the lighted windows
And find somewhere else to park

4. Some Few Leaves

Some few leaves
are keeping their
green
out of season,
persisting

Due to the
ministrations
of a
lamp
a sort of surrogate sun

Like chicks
clustered
round
the nursery bulb

There is light
to be had
and warmth,
yes –
and you

Too busy
huddling
to think about the privilege

The other trees
nodding
wasted arms

Or the light
as light
as gilding

It is simply
the source of life –
and you,
the succoured
living