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Artificial

The light of the lamps and the candles
in our bedroom
staggers out across the ceiling;
an ocean flickers, swims among
islands of solid artificial light
—or, also—
Christmas lights in an apartment,
when I moved out of the dorms
and walked to and from campus.
Burning on the balcony
a candle caught fire and I
had to put it out;
I sat and I watched it
smolder…

Little ultraviolet Christmas lights
in a bedroom back at home,
they swam, but always in little lines,
in formation; I could fixate on them
when I was tripping acid—breathless—
breathless against the lights
that eek out a little life against the night,
the shroud, the descent, the receding tide of sunlight
now long since foam along the shoreline:
the beachhead where the moonlight that glints
off pebbles and seashells
is death itself—
salty, cold, and firm in the wet sand.
Waves like a chant, a prayer uttered
on the lips of time, they soothe and
erase the faintest traces.

And the light from my cellphone screen
as I try to reach you
pings off my face into the night, and proves,
once again, that I am right about my obsession:
the further forward we push against darkness, against time
with all our candles, lamps, cars, and cellphones
—fire, wheel, cotton gin, computer—
our progression brings us all back to that beginning
when we were more primal and more raw.
My love, I can only hold so bright a view briefly,
before it flickers back out against the night—
but more than tides of history, or philosophy,
I imagine us together
—undefined, yet alive,
  like those little pools of light along the ceiling,
  like the LED porchlight that
  after so many years
  still waits to burn out.


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