a reflection on reading Ann Wroe’s Six Facets of Light
What gizmos we shall at first construct
and later see constructed, out of a manual
in the far future, by emergent technology
to make space in the electromagnetic
wave from the sun, so to be more at home in –
my slow brain cannot know the thousandth part of.
For now, upon the stave of a narrow spectrum,
a piece of life becomes a piece of light.
I am attuned to a far harmony.
What notes of fortune, what blind symphony
falls echoing within me, as I see?
Look at the white paths. Painters at Brighthelmstone
have trod the Downs to praise the living chalk.
Light turns to jewels. The humblest part of Nature
can hide a pearl of universal dye.
A shining horse cut on a Wiltshire hill
reveals the stamp and whinny of life, right back
to the first juddering, the original scorch
that seared the All with an incessant beauty.
At the hidden centre lies a white stone
with a new name inscribed on it, for each
(to take afresh an image from Revelation).
What is our place? The birds can do without us
that carry brightness on the turn of a wing.
The matter of light that is a spider’s web
needs no spectrilloscope. Tip our machinery
into the pit of the sun, before we lose
the primacy of a gift we know is ours –
to celebrate Nature even as we break
from crystal being. In the scheme of things
it is our way, to alter and keep balance.
The birds can show us how. At lark-fall, swan-swoop,
gulls gathering like stars, we see the sun dance.
Let us dare to utter creation. First
a scattered friction of needle-points
made the void bright. A wind
tore away from its burning edges –
a matter-dot shone. A universe seethed.
Time took place. First-bits flew,
a never-ending slap of luminescence.
Still we are in the instant, a first current
of texture, shape and colour, all in a sheer
Edenic wilderness, each way and move.
Turner painted it. Let there be light.
I speak of clouds. Always on my travels
down lanes of childhood they were there as friends,
and ever since. Magical coverlets
allowed a wandering mind a free-as-air home,
deft tuckings-up, the promise of a story.
A heavenly cinema has always been
a simple privilege of my solitude.
This is how light comes down to me on Earth,
as filtered into a well. Shadows assemble
of an extraordinary cascade elsewhere
of cosmic news, a sequence of history.
How do we gather it? A catch-as-catch-can
grab in the dark. If we are called to sail on
a wave from the sun, so to be more at home in –
what are the gizmos that for now we use?
What are the dials on the panel in
the observatory of the human mind?
It is not light without but light within
that we shall come to, when all’s said and done . . .
or the machine that we make out of ourselves
takes over. As we move onward – outward –
what is the braille that lets us see in blindness?
Number first. A background scaffolding
sets the stage to turn the world to words.
Further out, louder, so we scamper and chatter,
a bandar-log in a colossal façade.
What do they mean, these scratches in the dust?
What does it say to us, a lit-up cave-wall?
What music of the spheres plays in our pipes?
Listen and reckon. An indescribable beauty
comes our way. Do not say it is nothing.
For us, and other life in our locale,
what we do has a spellbound certainty.
There is light from the chalk cliffs, light from the sea,
from the soft-spoken clouds, from the deep-coloured
dialects of a wide-awake forest of flowers,
light on the breeze, and a lumination,
loveliest of all, on the dark wing of night.
Hidden somewhere, for a short time for each,
a small white diamond with a name inscribed
tells of the fortunes of the individual.
What of the maze of gadgetry we carry,
its mass of extras? As a light thing, half-settled,
still we fly outward, children of the sun.