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Some Beauty Needs a Dimness

February 2, 2010

by Diane Wakoski

For instance — the morning after snowfall, when
everything has the centered hack
of obsidian and white, clouds still covering the sky, without shadow.
Then, absence of color intimates
knowing and
alchemical possibilities.

If that morning, still puffed with the snow
draped on branches, were
shone upon, sky’s delphinium globe
swimming out of cloud-cover,
the little branches now dipped in
Tiffany-ice,
it would lose immensity
under my lids.
Now the
gold and green and orange snow blowers and shovels
would come out, a reminder of
worldly destruction; the kids in red gloves would
dirty the world with snowballs, the car mufflers
would blow out a column of assertive, lively particles,
some perhaps staining the snow blue. Even the light itself would be
cheerful and lose its sonority.
Edward Weston’s peppers — wouldn’t you shudder
if they were green? Would you ever want to see a Greta Garbo
film in color?

No.
Some beauty is created out of dimness,
and this I must remember in future times, when my hospital bed
will throb with the white of a morning after snowfall, the white
still almost dark because the clouds remain to cover
the sky. Let me celebrate an inevitable approach
of dimness, which I now am able to recognize
as final beauty. Let my seemingly ringless hand,
lying on the pristine sheet, reveal
the invisible philosopher’s stone I’ve always
worn on my marriage finger.
Let me remember light is only
indicated by lack of light and my closed eyes
thus behold
the alchemical chisel of black and white.


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Diane Wakoski’s new book, The Diamond Dog, will be published by Anhinga Press this spring, 2010. She is the author of more than twenty collections of poems and continues to teach at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Professor.

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  1. February 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    This delivers everything the title promises. Very moving, and perfect for the season and the kind of thoughts that go with it.

    I am also particularly taken by the lines
    ‘the invisible philosopher’s stone I’ve always
    worn on my marriage finger.’

  2. February 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I held my breath through this entire thing. Exquisitely beautiful and beautifully exquisite alike… the last few lines are simply perfect.

  3. Maureen Jivani
    February 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Stunning! A deeply moving poem.

  4. February 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Wow, Wakoski! She’s a favorite of mine – what a treat to hear this read.
    Thanks –

    (fyi – typo on “possibilities!”)

    • February 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      Hey, thanks for catching that typo. I’m abashed we all missed it.

  5. Audrey
    February 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Beautiful writing, but I WOULD like to see Garbo in color. It’s the only thing William Daniels (her cameraman) regretted, not filming that gorgeous creature in color. He said she was stunning and unbelieveably beautiful, even more so in the flesh.

  6. February 4, 2010 at 11:44 am

    yes, this is exquisite and perfect. i work with the elderly and often reflect – and will now be able to reflect more articulately – to the effect:

    ” Let me celebrate an inevitable approach
    of dimness, which I now am able to recognize
    as final beauty. “

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