Monday, November 3, 2008

Darkness and Daylight Savings

I'm not a poetry person by any means. Often the meaning I take from a passage is different than the one the author intended, which makes me feel foolish, or that I can't understand what he or she was trying to say. One poet I do enjoy, however, is Mary Oliver, because her themes are mainly about nature and the world around her. She also lives in Truro, MA and often writes about the surrounding area and the ocean.

I was flipping through one of her books this morning and this poem spoke to me. Over the weekend we turned our clocks back an hour, gaining that extra precious time for sleep (or however we choose to spend it). We have several lamps that are on timers, which all need to be adjusted when we change the clocks, both in fall and spring. For some reason this makes the change in the daylight even more noticable.

This time of year is harder for many people, myself included. The days grow very short and often its dark by 4:15 in the afternoon. The sun doesn't come up until well after 7am -- such a short day! I try to look at it as part of the cycle, the earth is tilting away from the sun, we spend more time indoors, nesting, coccooning and eating warm, hearty foods. It's a time for reflection, lighting our world from inside, rather than depending upon the light and warmth from without.

Although this poem takes place in summer, when the sun goes down after 8pm, it reminded me regardless of the time it sets, we turn on our lamps and light up from the inside.

The Lamps - Mary Oliver
Eight O'clock, no later
You light the lamps
The bog one by the large window,
The small one on your desk.
They are not to see by-
It is still twilight out over the sand,
The scrub oaks and cranberries.
Even the small birds have not settled
For sleep yet, out of the reach
Of probling foxes. No,
You light the lamps because
You are alone in your small house
And the wicks sputtering gold
Are like two visitors with good stories
They will tell slowly, in soft voices
While the air outside turns quietly
A grainy and luminous blue.
You wish it would never change-
But of course the darkness keeps
Its appointment. Each evening,
An inscrutable presence, it has the final word
Outside every door.

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