An illuminated transience

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Light

For Monet

Poets, too, are crazed by light,
How to capture its changes,
How to be accurate in seizing
What has been caught by the eye
In an instant’s flash –
Light through a petal,
Iridescence of clouds before sunrise.
They, too, are haunted by the need
To hold the fleeting still
In a design –
That vermilion under the haystack,
Struck at sunset,
Melting into the golden air
Yet perfectly defined,
An illuminated transience.

Today my house is lost in milk,
The milky veils of a blizzard.
The trees have turned pale.
There are no shadows,
That is the problem – no shadows
At all.

It is harder to see what one sees
Than anyone knows.
Monet knew, spent a lifetime
Trying to undazzle the light
And pin it down.

May Sarton
Letters from Maine: New Poems, 1984

They, too, are haunted by the need / To hold the fleeting still / In a design

We cannot hold the fleeting still. That’s why, for us, time so often appears, inexplicably, to fly. And time between the 3rd November 2022 and tonight, the 19th November 2022, appears to me to have passed in the blink of an eye. Of course, I have flashing memories of a flu jab, dental treatment, a Covid vaccine booster, poems read, accounts enumerated, letters written and received, some loving conversations – about life, and about death, about love, and about grief: yes, of course. Yet still there’s a degree of unknowing, an inability to grasp time’s flight, and probably a need to step out, sometimes, for a while, from the paths of routine, simply to breathe ‘illuminated transience.’ Yes: there are times and spaces when It is harder to see what one sees / Than anyone knows.

This blog remains a steady friend to me – sometimes in daily conversations and at others, in much the same way as happens in many other relationships, by way of catch-up. Revisiting. Re-membering. Undazzling the light. This blog reminds me – encourages me – to recognise profound beauty in the daily journey, not just in the destination. This blog slows me down within the continuum, the quiet voice at my shoulder inviting me to love and to life. And with every blink of my eyes, with every breath breathed in and out, with every attempt to catch a fleeting thought, or to let a thought take flight, the view changes. Focus zooms in and out … harder to see what one sees / Than anyone knows …

But – Light through a petal – it’s OK to be moved only ever so slightly in the breeze: to stay awhile, to let all that is, within and beyond, tell us quietly what ungraspable time and life and love are really all about.

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