Sunday, July 05, 2009

Patterned Light

A little over a month ago I had a somewhat extraordinary experience. Nothing really happened in particular but there was a startling convergence of weather and light at the house I’m living at, producing a moment of such startling and unexpected beauty that I will never, never forget it. Yet it was so eccentric and strange a moment, almost dreamlike, that I can’t really grasp it anymore, and even felt it slipping away moments after its passing.

I had stepped outside of the house I live at, called Greenwood, for no particular reason; the amazing view we have over the Great Marsh of coastal northern Massachusetts is never anything but stunning and is all the reason one would ever need. But even as my foot was crossing the threshold there was an unusual character to the light I was entering and my eyes perked up. I crossed the line of shrubs and trees that line the side of the house quickly to look over the marsh.

It was late afternoon, and had been a day of fitful winds, sun and high clouds, threatening rain and storms. To the southeast, just beyond the salt marsh and over the dunes and drumlins that border the open ocean was a dark band of clouds and rain, occasionally lit with an erratic line of lightning, rising high into the sky. From behind me the sun shone brightly, piercingly through the clouds, lighting up the new green growth of marsh grass. The grass was glowing, seemingly both from within itself and from the sun, an unearthly shade I felt I had never experienced before. This strange color and transmission of light had seeped even into the interior of the house, and two of my housemates had felt it and came running out to see it as well.

We all stood there, mostly unspeaking, watching the light emanating all around us. The moment stood, locked in time, lingering, my brain trying to absorb it, for what seemed a long period, but was probably just three or four minutes, before a sound came from behind us. I turned around, and saw that giant drops of rain were falling from the sky in the full sunlight, every long globe of water lit up and distinct from its many thousands, maybe millions, of brethren. The rain fell over a green meadow of tall grass a thousand shades of green, each swaying tip grasping the moisture and holding it a full moment before letting it run down its spine to the earth below.

At this point, though it created a rift in the full experience, I couldn’t help but think consciously to myself that it was simply too much, too much to fully absorb, that the beauty was well beyond my capacity to comprehend or even fully acknowledge. I thought of my lost sister, felt her close to me, and thanked her for her love and for sharing this moment with me. Though I have no idea where this kind of thing comes from, it was one of the only things, perhaps the first thing since Esme’s passing, which felt close to the kind of love we shared, and it seemed a gift, and true to Esme’s spirit.

I tried to capture some of what I experienced, visually, in a poem, but it’s a really bad poem. But because the whole point of a blog is to share stuff that nobody is really interested in, here it is:

Patterned LIght


patterned light
patterned light
green, green

grass, patterned light

again, rain

by my face

this is light
Patterned light.

The photographs are by my housemate Susan, and big thanks to her for them. They are nothing like the real thing, of course, but are very nice to have and I’m happy to share them here.

Love to all.


franny said...

Cool. Thanks for sharing.

dldeprez said...

I had been working with one of my students at the Chicago Academy for the Arts this past year regarding a project that, in part, utilized the qualities of light. She wanted to make a model suspending things in spaces transparent to light. I told her that her earlier work had inspired me to write how leaves in light are windows into the souls of plants. I wrote her that the reason for my love of photosynthesis, like her wonder about dangling things in contraptions transparent to light, "is L—I—G-H-T! It’s about light."

The following excerpt from your post corresponds with the comments I made to her. "The grass was glowing, seemingly both from within itself and from the sun, an unearthly shade I felt I had never experienced before."

I am happy that you experienced light that day in a way that appears to align with Esme's "explosion of love and light" that her parents predicted would result in her passing, and that you made the connection with Esme in that way.

Meghan said...

I always remember this special moment with you, Esme, Franny and I, when we were across the road watching the sun set. It was a moment of perfect harmony between all of us and the beauty of the world. Esme was only a little girl, but she understood the beauty, and it looks to me like to you found another moment like that to share with her. Beautiful!