DAY AND NIGHT (a poem about me)

It’s night, when one needs love like blood,
And a city is an iceberg of lights,
The air throbs, roars like a distant bear.
The finger of one’s mind, in indolence,
Retraces the schema of old streets
Their excess of purpose – redundant as
Antique newsprint. I like to sense this imprint of
Bustling, forgotten hands: the surfeit of detail in a frosted
Frieze, or else a silent mausoleum in its zone;
With dolls’ house windows that will not surrender
My own reflection. I like it all.

As a child, I wore my life like a nettle
I looked out with blistery eyes
As if a scourge (as if one scourged)
Not wanting to be found.
Of late, I’m more resilient.
I watch this house of mine fall dark:
I draw it round me.
Outside, perhaps, the crumbs of friendships
Of issues grown pale – or rather, simply remote.

I remember now. It happened one afternoon.
There’d been a downpour. Briefly, the clouds parted,
And in the blaze, the city shone as if pearl
For a moment, as if cleansed – as if life itself had been
Cleansed – all purged, all forgiven. For a moment, I felt
Glad to share what was soundless, timeless:
Proud to be there.

It is my shame to be different
But I don’t know how to live in bad faith.
I wish I could walk among the rest, be one of the rest
Find my solace in a seamless absurdity, but rather,
Those shackles have slipped away. For me, you see,
There is a dissonance in one’s heart, if one has purpose:
A tension, or a null that must be fed:
One needs to have some private absurd –
Some folly dimly grasped, giving one the appetite to carry on;
There’s nothing left, once vision and apathy melt together, resigning one,
In lean despotic light, to be an outsider at life’s busy midnight feast.
Spare me the sun, this glazed horizon, this eternal present.
How frivolous is life, if shorn of meaning
How short a life, how long a day.

Stephen Jackson

January 2005

Journal Comments

  • Suzanne German