Julie Wade

The Opaque Dilemma of Daylight

I said to myself, “It will be a dark poem,”

as if this imprecise color—dark—were able to capture,

or clearly imply, my prevailing sense of impediment.

Then, I thought of Sisyphus,

as I often do—how it seems to be his motion I crave:

pushing the stone uphill, chasing the boulder back down.

For Sisyphus, of course, the path is clear; his impediment

moves with him; he is not obstructed, as such. Rather,

condemned to a knowable fate, a sparkling translucence.

This story, this Sisyphus, is not a dark poem.

Tragic perhaps, but lighted by the soft lamps of

gusto and verve.

Now what of the still point?

What of the still point in the turning world?

Beleaguered by winter, battered by snow,

I feel myself transfixed into axis: intersection

of lines, contradictory desires: motionless

in the flecked cold’s accumulation,

the slanted gales of wind.

When A. says, “we must be trudging

through the ugliest snow globe in the world,”

I laugh and dust my mittens.

At the corner’s dense impediment of traffic,

buses yawn and growl, snaking through pedestrian sprawl

like trowels through a thick layer of soil.

Soon, the radio reports, we may see “white-out

conditions”: eclipses of light by light. Not dark

this blizzard of mixed imperatives, fraught blessings.

I am a little girl in galoshes, a little girl with a note

pinned to her coat from a teacher who writes in

her best grown-up penmanship:

“The student is sensitive. The student suffers

from extreme sensitivities to the light.”

The little girl never imagines she will be standing

here—on this wilted corner, in this white-washed city:

this Opacity: lacking Sisyphean strength, lacking

Sisyphean leverage—and leverage, it must be stated,

is among the most terrible things to lack—

A grown-up girl, with deep treads in her boots

and dim stars in her eyes, still waiting

for the light to change.