THE LIGHT COLLECTOR
Jean Sprackland

He knows broad daylight inside out,
can't get excited any more by the tawdry brilliance of it,
flattening everything, dumbing it down.
From an open window on the seventh floor
he watches the street scudding below, and thinks
I must make something of my life, as if it were
a bag of rags for recycling.
Gauzy scraps of dawn
have begun to bore him. He leans out
into the caramel light of late summer evening
smattering wet roofs and TV aerials: too rich, too obvious.

At night he daydreams tricks so bright
he feels they lend him context.
He knows he has a steady way with starlight,
can pick it up like sand on a fingertip.
He goes out under the moon, in the fabulous air
tasting of electricity. He lingers by houses with drawn curtains,
presses himself thin as a shadow and watches light
bleeding from the open doorway of a pub.
But it leaves him hungry. What he seeks
for his own broken purpose is smaller
more secretive sources: the bits you find
in the sweepings of a long day alone.
The cryptic blue cast by a computer. The smash-and-grab
of camera flash. The blade of light under the door
with voices glinting behind it.

He wants to stop all the draughts in this place
with light, he wants it to shed meaning.
In the dark kitchen he opens the fridge
and the light is so sweet and precise it leaves him aching.


© Jean Sprackland 2000   (first published in Poetry London 36 (Summer 2000)