Ghost Light

This is no ordinary dark.
In my day it took heavy machinery
to drill through it:
ellipsoidal spotlights
when Fresnel bits broke,
and mixing-bowl-shaped
reflector floods—
scoops, so-called—
to shovel out the dark
and carve deep tunnels of light
where plays are mined.

Right now
a 100-watt bulb on a lampstand
empties its beams
into the ravenous blackness,
illuminating nothing but itself.
When the stage is empty,
the light must never
be switched off, or so
we superstitious players say.

For those who enter never exit
                    fully;​
we leave pieces of our hearts
                    onstage.​

Now listen.
Do you hear a woman
weeping here in the dark?
I can see her even if you cannot,
crouching on the stage
surrounded by hooded men
who murmur imprecations
in some strange language.

What I cannot see
is the little boy out there
in the darkened house.
But I can hear him
call to his mother
and tell her not to cry,
that everything
will be all right
and he won’t let
anyone hurt her,

bringing smiles to spectral faces
and laughter from phantom throats—
falsehood redeemed
by falsehood itself,
a touch of healing
by the ghostly light
of a loving lie.

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Wim Coleman

Wim Coleman is a playwright, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer. His poetry has been published in SOL: English Writing in Mexico, The Opiate, Dissenting Voice, Tuck Magazine, Vita Brevis, The Esthetic Apostle, Dream Noir,  Visitant, The Thieving Magpie, Levee Magazine, and other publications. His book of poetry I.O.U. will be published this year by Adelaide Books. His play The Shackles of Liberty was the winner of the 2016 Southern Playwrights Competition. Novels that he has co-authored with his wife, Pat Perrin, include Anna’s World, the Silver Medalist in the 2008 Moonbeam Awards, and The Jamais Vu Papers, a 2011 finalist for the Eric Hoffer/Montaigne Medal. Wim and Pat lived for fourteen years in Mexico, where they adopted their daughter, Monserrat, and created and administered a scholarship program for at-risk students. Wim and Pat now live in Carrboro, North Carolina. They are members of PEN International. Blog: playsonideas.com.

Wim Coleman. "Ghost Light." Clock Radio Magazine, August 22, 2020, https://clockradiomagazine.com/wim-coleman/ghost-light/2119/
Cover Image:丁亦然