Self-Portrait with Shadow
Sometimes light reveals our thoughts.
Separate and unequal, we blend.
The predominant sibilant in English,
its pronunciation varies.
Sciaphobia is the fear of shadows. Last
winter the wellhead froze and we
chain-sawed our way to warmth,
synchronized in the fading light.
And which decides the other’s fate?
In the flame I detect new life, a hissing
in the cast iron box. Though ranked only 8th
in frequency of use, more words in English
begin with S, leaving additional questions.
Is hiss the opposite of shh?
The umbra is the darkest part
of the shadow, where light is completely
blocked. Not the serpent, but the bow
and a misperception. Shadows grow
in proportion to the distance
between the object blocking the light
and the projection surface. Resembling
infinity, yet missing the link. Two facets
of one darkness. A faint suggestion. Amphiscians
cast shadows in two directions. Or not at all.
Another version of this appeared in Otoliths in fall of 2013, but it appears that I’m not quite done with it. I’d been exploring our alphabet, tracing letters’ origins from hieroglyphs to present form, and attempting to merge some of those findings with disparate details. One of these days I’ll get back to it…
More successful examples of what I was trying to achieve can be found at Prime Number Magazine: http://www.primenumbermagazine.com/Issue41_Poetry_RobertOkagi.html