Poet’s Pad: Light and Shadow

psychedelicwater

I recently wrote this for a creative writing class I’m currently taking at the Rubin Museum of Art. It’s a work in progress but I’m pleased with the first draft, so I’d like to share it with all of you. It is a very short story (2 pages) based on an untitled painting by Satish Gujral, an Indian Modernist artist. Unfortunately, the painting is no where to be found online so I cannot feature it here, but it might in fact be better that way. I hope you enjoy.

***

 I stand here clinging to the dark little door to my dark little shack. A few days ago a door appeared beyond the courtyard. Nothing terribly unusual. Doors and windows appear here and there every now and then. This door is different. It emits a strange light, which has done something to the grass in the courtyard; something I have never seen. How do I describe this? It’s as if the grass has taken on a quality of light, but it is different than the light in the door. The same thing is happening to the sky. It is becoming light but not in the traditional sense. It too has taken on light- different from the door, different from the grass. While the light in the grass is vibrant, the light in the sky is rich. I’ve no words for this type of thing. Our little town has always been dark; safe and dark until now.

The neighbors and their shadows glare through the windows in dismay. Only I venture to leave my abode. I’ve been standing here for weeks anxiously hoping the door will fade away. No such luck. It is dangerous, I know, but I am drawn to it. I feel something very pleasant upon my face when I look on it. This is another thing I cannot describe. My face tingles and sometimes water begins to leak from…well, from inside my head I think. At first I thought something sinister was at work, but it seems to do no harm except for occasional thirst that follows.

On top of this, my shadow has been acting odd. It seems to be stretching ever longer toward the door as if trying to pull me. I’ve told it to please stop, but it has never listened much to me. It seems to like resting on the grass. I, too, have had the urge to step out into the courtyard, but I dare not. What if something terrible happens? What if that strange light consumes me? No, better to stay in the dark. It’s safe. Always safe. Always the same. Though I can’t shake the feeling I am not the same. The neighbors glare not only at the door, but at me as if I’m some kind of demon. Doesn’t bother me. I never liked them, but I do feel odd.

Images have been filling my head while I sleep, and more than that, lately I’ve felt I was awake while I was sleeping. Another paradox. I enter some strange world while I sleep full of many wondrous shapes and objects that emit different kinds of light like the grass and the sky. In that world, I feel something I’ve never felt before. I feel as if I’m filled with light. My mouth begins twisting upwards as I think of it. This too is a new, inexplicable sensation. It produces a sensation similar to that of the door’s light on my face, except inwardly. I’m afraid I’m not making much sense.

Nothing left to do. I’ve decided. I step tentatively out of the doorway. I’m experiencing some sort of subtle convulsion in my body. Water begins to appear on my body as my chest heaves. I keep walking. My shadow seems to be chuckling. It stretches further toward the door, then disappears. I am on the grass. My eyes marvel at its strange radiance. There is a gust of air. The grass falters beneath me. I look up to see the door has opened. I am bathed in light. It is too much. I start back to my shack, but I cannot see. Blind! I am blind. All I see is light all around.

***

I am on my back. I must have been sleeping. The strange images and events are getting more vivid. I open my eyes. What’s this? I am not in my shack. It is not dark. What is that above me? The sky? No it can’t be. What are those strange floating shapes? “Clouds.” Clouds? Who said that? “You did.” There it is again. I sit up. “Show yourself,” I proclaim. Oh dear. Where am I?

“The World of Color.”

I whip my self around, “Where are you?”

“Inside. No need to speak aloud.”

You can hear me now?

“Yes.”

Where did you come from?

“I’ve always been.”

How come I’ve never heard you before?

“You weren’t listening, or rather, you couldn’t.”

You said this is the World of Color.

“You said it.”

I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know this word—color. Wait, wait the strange light, different in each object—that’s it! Hello?

Gone. The voice is gone. Yes, the grass; it’s green. The sky is blue. The clouds are white! Colors are wonderful. I will sit here. The sun is up. The sun! It’s light is warm. Warmth. I am warm! New concepts, new feelings. How wonderful. The mountains in the distance fill me with hope. The lakes in the valley instill in me quiescence. The sun overhead strikes me with joy. And yet, what is this other feeling? Something missing. Loneliness. I am alone. Alone! With all of this beauty. What good is it with no one to share?

“You are not alone. Follow the breeze.”

Breeze? What’s that? Oh! I feel it, the grass follows it. The trees, too.

I’m running! I am strong and fast. I am alive. Yes, there is life all around. Life. That was the feeling from my dreams; that feeling of being filled with light. I run until I hit a thick line of trees. I enter the forest. It is dim and humid. The concepts and feelings keep coming one after the other as if I’ve always known. I’m covered in water, in sweat. The birds are twitting about. A snake hangs lazily from a branch above. I come to a pond.

Flowers line the banks. Vines drape the space above the crystalline water. Sun beams burst through the canopy. The water sparkles. Something disturbs its still façade. Something from beneath. The water parts. A figure rises and walks toward me. I am not alone. She stands before me bathed in water and sun. And now, I feel something else. Not only the light of life, but something warm inside; it’s fragile and strong at the same time. It fills me with joy beyond joy, with longing. My eyes burn and water. I am overcome. I take her in my arms and we are one.

On the ground before us our shadows merge and dissipate in the sunshine. I think of words, ancient and long forgotten:
The greenery of the hills overflowing with golden light
basking in the honey dripping rays
of eternity
we see but they do not see,
hear when no one else listens
in the silence of the garden of
the fountain of our lives
we stop to behold.

The water flows and doesn’t cease…
we are like this.
in the flood of life taken by beauty
of everything that was
everything that is, and we
cannot stop being.

By Terence Stone © 2013

More Poet’s Pad:
Meditation
I Hold You in My Heart
A Season for Love

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Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.

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