Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Cast a Shadow on My House

Meandering, looking for something intriguing to catch my eye, I caught a glimpse of my shadow trailing along the side of my house. How fleeting, how insubstantial: a blue-gray silhouette always on the cusp of disappearing. I let it rest for a moment against the sun-warmed wood siding, then pulled it over the edge and across the snow-patched lawn.

This afternoon I revisited "Light," a wonderful, shadow-filled prose poem by David Lazar from his newest collection, Powder Town:


What is the morality of light, I wonder, years after it might have made a difference?

A shadow spills from a man with a fedora onto a pavement that is whiter than it should be. But the shadow stands between the man and the sun, and by the angle of his hat, I'm not sure if the man has gotten away with something. But the shadow knows.

For years I went around not understanding the meaning of "opaque." I tried to bluff every once in awhile, but always had the feeling that others could see through me.

We played a game called silly silhouettes. We mimed everything from the first moments of Paradise to playing a quick game of blackjack with someone's skull. We did this as a kind of light amusement to pass the time. Until Primavera mimed Johnny Three-Fingers taking a long hard fall. That was just a little too real.

One afternoon, my girl and I were in the country when the light struck. It was that brilliant late afternoon light that makes you so happy it's scary. It's a memory light, a light that seems to hold everything. And I realized that it reminded me of a day when I was young when the same light hit and reminded me of a day when I was younger. By the time it passed, and all it takes is a shade of difference to lose the effect, I realized my girl was nowhere to be seen.

-- David Lazar

Doesn't that ending just hollow you out?

I love that late afternoon light, those searching gold fingers of light that suddenly hold up your life for you to see. Light that sends such long shadows writhing from your feet.

"Light" was reprinted here with permission of the author, David Lazar. It can be found on page 17 of Powder Town ( 2008) from Pecan Grove Press, San Antonio, Texas.

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