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Unseen: An Autobiography of Light (Part One)

2009 April 1
by J. Scott Mosel

1129194_camp_theresinstadt     The history of light fills many volumes.
     Forget wisps of breath and birdsong.
     Look for broken pottery under layers
     Of silt if you must. Look for the dead.

     Try to remember
     History records many open windows
     And only one constant: light.
                L. Astorelle (d. 578) The Mystery of Light






I let paint move where it wants-
within reason there are many rooms.
Later, my hand will slow into shadow,
determined to lift the life of object
into substance. I want to add notes,
if I could, but they do not let me.
It is not time. The leaves catch little
of me that remains here, and later,
rain will fall. Happiness comes
and goes–I  need
sleep, and sweetly, soon.


Slanted, I stretch across the open
window–the child is almost born.
The mother is flushed with screaming
blood. The hands follow me
into darkness, where god waits-
they know what to do.
No one is outside. Here,
with water, clay jars, linens and milk,
there is time for one last look
at the stars, then I am finished.


They torture me slowly, of course,
with a knife that is blunt on one side.
My screams stop at the moment
I become animal, still gurgling
after my head is gone. The windows,
covered. The chanting, goes on.


Without thinking, I curved
love into a ribcage, little
by little settling into form
and measureable language.

I knew time would lift
hidden designs to a suitable fate.

As I walked on sand,
I thought of wet
grass, distant stars,
and oil, soft gurgle
of hidden elements
that wait, sometimes,
forever. Eyes, I know,
find all the answers,
and lips, lips
never tell the truth.


I was her only salvation,
the mineral
inside her skull,
the miracle, mirror, masquerade.
Now she will touch mortality
for the rest of human existence,
and I will touch water and soil
before I pass beyond the visible,
before I reach the unseen,
where other worlds wait
to be born
and no words exist
for this, or anything else
that hides in darkness
and sleeps.


I made sure the fields were warm
and shadows beneath the foliage
cool to touch. In the open,
I could hear vultures
cry out with meaty beaks.

It was a good day for killing,
and from what I understand,
a certain glee engulfed the survivors.

I remember one, wiping his mouth
on his sleeve after it was over,
and then he stared at the sky
for a long time. Our eyes met
somewhere miles beyond
the horizon, and I was unhappy
when he looked away to kiss
the ground.


I stretched out my arms
to meet a weary traveler.
I knew he was ready.

I saw his face through the open
window, and his eyes
never left mine. It was
time: I could see
clouds move in his
iris, and each one spelled
a different word
for Now.


Photo by Adam Jeffries Schwartz

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