Singing the Light

Singing the Light 

for Sarah Hall                             

by j.s. porter

The day’s soot on an obscenely tense face,

 an ill-fitting mask, the itchy and uncomfortable skin,

what do you do with such desperation, such unsavory bone?


Sometimes you need a poem, and nothing else will do,

shot straight to the vein;

you need it the way a drunk needs a drink, a sinner needs a sin,

something to start the day afresh with.


You scour the secondhand bookshops to see

if there’s something with your name on it,

and, if you’re lucky, you come upon

Derek Walcott’s “The Light of the World.”


Light breeds light.


It’s a poem of homecoming and traveling through the dark,

with starlight, headlights and face-light abounding,

where Light holds you by the throat and smacks you in the face.


Light is the black pearl you’re riding in the van with;

she hums  Bob Marley and you want to give her your room key.

 Light is a Jew from Nazareth.

It’s Hemingway in a story.

It’s the Caribbean, St. Lucia, even the man who hands you your dropped cigarettes.

It’s Walcott’s poem, a cleansing sea.


You need Light—

the first element and command of Creation,

the first improbable, inexhaustible gift—

and poetry to sing it.

*Please go to the light. Sarah has used my poem as inspiration for her glass installation at Greenwood College School in Toronto.

 “Singing the Light” appears in a chapbook published by The Alfred Gustav Press in Vancouver called “Of Wine and Reading.”