The Roots of Light
August at evening
and the day's heat dies
about my insect shoulders
winged in the failing light
From the cedar decking
behind my home my thought takes flight
seeking the seed that unifies
and though I am universal
in my singular insignificance
it is for me that this meaning burns
pulling me into the web of night
Above the trees and shadow shapes
that mark the confines of my yard
city lights mask the sky
in falsest of illuminations
as if the sphere of heaven turns
about my point of earth
Jupiter hangs upon my meridian
lifting Sagittarius
from its southward migrations
in the falls of our seasons
while fresh cycles spin hence
from each secret birth
That dominance of light
which quickened wisdom in man's mind
until he had made judgement of its reasons
conjoining all that is material
into an unknown equation of one
One planet, who's moons moved
and so, too, we moved
but were cast outward
loosed from our fixed center to wind
around new centers, finding
in Sagittarius a new lineage
and a reinvigorated sun
Still, we move
with these moons that move me
not by their indifferent inch across my sky
for slow and fast I cannot gauge
when all motions have been found equal
But by this demon singularity
that haunts my northern eye
outshining the sharper grains
scattered out
across my city-grey nightfall
Scarce perturbed in my being
Jupiter dares me know my motions
to trace this one flight through time
and the unity I must spin about
the compass of myself
Here at my edge and my center
where I am moored amid the oceans
of nothing
and of all that will ever be
I search for that veiled calling
and the direction wherein lies self
I look upon Jupiter
rooted in radiance
and my being rises in its light
turning to the left and to the right
rising and falling
as the stars rise and fall
Seeing all things
beneath my beating wings
rise and fall,
seeking left and right
the solutions to questions scarce revealed
yielding the roots of light, the holders
of the seed of all.
I am bred on this dungheap of stars
issue of a blue-eyed planet mated
to a middle-aged sun
and with wings wide spread
respond to each of their rhythms
and to their harmony
Here the music carries
on the staff of light
its timeless cadence translated
across the leap of space
between then and now
to where taut Jupiter turns
its light upon me
There is not time
for me to search galaxies
nor the betweenwards emptiness
nor seek some inner trace
within a distant power
to find the meters of myself
beaten out
Timelessness is for the light alone,
and broad cadences of time are left
for galaxies to assess
by their motions
ordering among their stars
the rhythms hid within
and those revealed without
It is mine to flutter among those points of thought
budding in the interstices
where the light wedges
points scattered through my reason
unfolding to begin
where the light stops
and their now appears
For I exist, as you exist
launched between borders of time
wings bent on a day's rough edges
burdened under a weight of months
and still to come
the weigh of lonely years
Years when the light
that is my light will fade
into darkness and like old coyote
I will slink away along a rift of time
carrying the sum
of hill-howled moon and shattered star
In this moment, arrested where Jupiter hangs
above the deck of my land-bounded life
I see the dim fingers of the lemon tree
and the upswept palms of the sapote
reaching in resonance
to the moons of my meridian
accomplices in my avatar
I navigate on the words of saints
indistinctly perceived through the scrim
of my sight and hearing
trusting such light to enhance
the outlines of the true
as I pursue them among wisdoms I have read
Though I have some bearing on the distant stars
and more upon you and me
with distance disappearing
I wonder if these
this course define
and what to make of my summoning dead
For I can chart them all
each on separate routes in the silence
ghosts guiding lights between Jupiter's moons
shadowy in the wake of my dreams
hinting at an emerging design
for the journey I've conceived
They show the headings to our unions
where summer sunlight probes our afternoons
and all the measures of my meridian
are summed upon an insect's wings
a rhythm of molecules
hovering against the unperceived
I must solve for the roots of light
in a strange mathematics
let it break into parts
the equation of my whole
numbering each part that is
to extrapolate what can be
where what has been
binds me to the web of universe
Light is the one source
of all that is seen and unseen
of time illumined in the mind of man
and shadowed on his soul
it is the alpha
unchanging in the radiance of itself
and the alpha for which my omega
is alpha's curse
The field of light was
and its energy the first outcropping of reality
sprung from the first root
and we are but solid fragments
seeds left when the light ceases, becoming self
grown and transformed into bird song
or a blade of grass
When light is
there is no where and can be nothing of me
for place exists only in the shadow
as I exist only in the shadow
caught in the airy net
my veined wings cast
Nor where there is light will it yield
nor can I possess its when
for this is the essential indifference
I am denied independence to know
and in Archimedes' unanchored feet
lies my dispossession
Such are the roots in this field
no place and time can be mine
to make the one inference
around which the universe might coalesce
into an all-embracing expression
Though I may seem sovereign
I am held and briefly here
as the fly hovering on an August afternoon
or the eclipsing moon spinning night's dress
around its sunless shoulders
one bound between time and fact
in a rift along the web of light
I am one solution
to an equation of strange factors
emerged from some implicative cocoon
improvised precisely out of my own geometry
waiting as wings stiffen
to take flight
And the light bends to let me pass
moving Through space
with its surrounding grace
sweeps out behind me
closes the door
all motions ended inside its action
Yet where light touches
it settles the shadow
binding to my knowledge of time and place
the finality of that same time and place
tying rough knots into the fabric
of every abstraction
In each of these
the light leaves reality
like old rags meant to be somewhere and sometime missed
in the coyote's howl or seared wings of the moth
beating at a candlestick
and finches asleep among lemon leaves
when the moons of Jupiter moved
After that zero
when the light at last enters
becoming, nor until then
do time and space exist
and, in me, can I begin to become
all that is or there may be
which will be proved
Shape anew the web of light
slung between stars
examining the seized flow
here in the fullness of a purple flower
lit as sunset settles
and the incandescence burning
behind a spider's eye
Reckon now a second root
in the things of life
by drawing back the curtains of an evening's rainbow
to see outspread the timeless stage
in my front yard
where I explore its parts
in the motions of a hover fly
From the roots of this momentary unity
let me draw the elements of our orbits
and of our revelations
the chance that we engage
as one, drawn together from remote galaxies
wings fluttering in our present flame
I open my hand
releasing into the light
each of these creations
the huge-eyed spider and the wasp-like fly
a pot herb's purple flower
and the one eternal game
The fly that hovers
near a flower in my yard
the fly that darts aside
to hang and hover
examining the purple flower
darts straight in and hangs
upon the purple flower in my yard
The fly that gathers nectar
from the flower as it grows
upon a sprig of fresh oregano
where my prying eyes discover
one spry spider leaping upward
from the foliage below
suckles at the flower I regard
It is no matter if that flower
through our study in its purple
concentrating on its vital theme
is the world the fly perceives
and all the spider seems to know
as if no other universe had been
For what we may discover in my yard
are just those banal things
existing as they seem
a repetitious insignificance
that guides toward life or death
absorbing fly and spider
with the truth of what they mean
And still the jumping spider
hangs upon the branchlet
peering upward through the leaves
and purple flowers in my yard
up toward that single flower
and the hanging hover fly
The fly and jumping spider
and the single purple flower
gripped beneath my eaves
all hang suspended
in the clouded web of sunrays
purple sunrays woven through a sunset sky
The evening's play of light
that teases out an answer
passes now behind the dying clouds
that hang above my shadowed yard
and in the sunset that has ended
seen no longer by a human eye
the fly and jumping spider carry on
Their rooted interaction
has escaped my searching eye
I will not see this tarot's turn
nor read the fatal card
not see the purple closing
of the flower's petals
nor where the spider
nor the fly have gone
Light's universal field
is these never ended tessellations
placed in foliage at sunset
or spread for us, vast as Jupiter
amid accumulations of summer stars
in the vital purposes we perceive
All is the pattern
that is the one real root of light
where universe and its epochs
condense, become set
pulling us frail-limbed from the void
into the greater field until
I can reach out, just
and, touching you, believe
You and I, married at this one place
held between our imaginations
bear all in our hands to explore
diminishing Jupiter and its will
of whirling moons to points,
to less than points among our visions
Now is the light laid
in inexpressible field
where what is and when may be
are its one metaphor
and we are those beginnings and endings
rooted in the veil that is drawn across
our final decisions
In unmeasured violence is all beginning
as in the shattering of uncounted suns
and in some quieter violence
will we end, the sun ebbing from us
into that veiling light
Before the first man was, or stem
sent up the first leaf, or unisons
of rock rose out of primordial seas
to invest the Earth and air
with places for day and night
Before there was a first breath drawn
or light could place its stain
on anything we could understand
was violence everywhere
and everywhere was silence
We are born in division
and into other divisions
must we go again
but in this transitory truth
that is our whole
we stand up to deny
the darkest heart of that violence
We, shadows in the greater shadow
reach for the light as if it might dawn
out of its elemental roots
for us to comprehend
disclosing to us the why
we may believe
and choose to purpose
Rather look inward
to the fly hanging on the flower
ask its purpose in the shadows of my lawn
ask the meaning of the spider's concentration
of what then is holy
and what is barbarous
These are all the elements
the roots of light
the tense web of an equation
that becomes the spider's right
and why the moons of Jupiter
spin around an August eve
masters of my meridian
and of its lonely spaces
All these are bred within us now
seeded anew to rise and fall
rooted in the symmetry of light
established in the intricacies
of uncounted stars
and incarnate in the reflection
of upturned faces

© 1997 Jess Morton