Monday, June 8, 2009

Light in Stone

Who buys a lamp he cannot read by?

What could be the intention of someone walking alone through a Portland, Maine, gift shop on a summer afternoon, setting his sights on a lamp when he has no obvious room in which it can cast its muted light?

Some light is the light of hope and wonder, and the steps I was taking a year ago this summer were steps of hope and wonder as I focused on creating a new home. No, I did not expect to read by the light of the luminaire lamp. Its stone etching suggested sunlight through the trees of a forest, like the Sanctuary Trail at nearby Prouts Neck. I expected something would happen by that light, but it was not what I could talk about with any confidence or logical rigor. It involved an act of faith, and I was not accustomed to acting out of faith in myself or my dreams.

I am honoring this time of anniversary by turning that lamp on each evening, knowing that I will not do anything by that light that bears comment or commands attention from others. I am willing to let a light shine, though, through a room that did not know twelve months ago what I might be attempting within its walls each night, the ease and the re-creation that sleep can bring to someone starting a life over.

Image of lithophane lamp from The Porcelain Garden


Ur-spo said...

I like the notion of a light serving little purpose other than generating light. It seems comforting in a way.

Donald said...

Comfort is exactly what that kind of lamp creates, fosters and prolongs. All you need is to be there and lay aside all the ideas of usefulness by which you ordinarily measure your days -- and nights.

MperiodPress said...

One of my most favorite glad to be able to share it with you after reading something of yours that is so beautiful.


Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.

~ Charles Simic ~

Donald said...

I love this poem. It comes at the right time. It tells the right story. It stops all the usual attempts to answer a riddle that is not going to give up its truth easily.

You are one of the people with whom I would most confidently entrust "the strange writings, the star-charts/ on the inner walls."

Thank you.