Part of a physics experiment at our local university. They were shining a laser at a copper spring, but quite what they expected to get from it I haven’t a clue. Very pretty, though.
The Days of Light
Once, there was a world filled with light, and love.
There was a home, whole and fine, even if it changed into different homes over the years. The home was warm in the winter and had a fire, and was cool in the summer with open windows. There were woods to explore, bikes to ride and paths to follow. There were bright toys, shades of color and paper to take them, and a pen to write down the adventures of the mind.
There were walks in the forest, great trees towering monumentally overhead, cascades pouring down through the green glens. There were great treks of many days across the mountains, soaring peaks and biting rock and shivering snow, a tent pitched by a crystal alpine lake, and the wonder of a map as it led down twisting and winding roads.
There were friends who would come to birthdays, who would bike to school and who would go rock climbing on Fridays. There were beloved teachers and caring parents, if a little overbearing. They encouraged and fostered, gave love and grew confidence. There was music, and there was writing, and there was the soar of the imagination. There was a full life, and there was joy.
The Days of Dark
And then, one day, the light and love disappeared.
The home became a prison, one that changed into other prisons over the years. The windows remained shut, and the shades were drawn. The fire became candles, lit only in the depths of the night, in a room all alone, the door locked. The woods were forgotten, the bikes gathering cobwebs. All the colors turned to black, and the toys…they turned to razors.
The trees appeared gnarled and twisted, even in the midst of summer; their towering heights now oppressed, threatening to crush and choke from above. The mountains became evil, and a jailer, a torment that prevented the comfort of a bed in a corner in the dark. The world was dim, and the sun failed to pierce both eyelid and heart.
The old friends left; new friends came, and shared the blackness of the world. They would drive to school with doom on the radio, and would go drinking on Fridays. The teachers and parents looked with sadness and despair, and all their encouragement fell on deaf ears, their love on a broken soul. There was no confidence, no hope, and the imagination saw only the ending of all life. There was an empty life, and there was misery.
The Days of Gray
And so life went on, for many years. There was no going back, no return to the days of light. The nature of the darkness changed as the homes once did, but always against a background of blackest black. There were days when life was bearable, and days when rising from bed was more effort than there was to spare.
But there was one, a single person who refused to give up. One who would not accept the lethargy, who refused to allow the darkness to thrive. She fought, and for her efforts received anger, and abuse. But in the face of this was an indomitable will, a knowledge that, free of the pits of despair, there was a soul worth saving.
And there was a child. A precious, tiny child who did’t — who couldn’t — understand the darkness. A child who did not deserve to be subjected to its despair. And that broken soul, it saw the child, and for the first time in forgotten years, knew that here was a thing to live for. The survival of this infant life was, if nothing else, the sole reason to begin to fight the darkness.
The battle is far from won. There have been great triumphs, and even greater falls. Wonderful joy when the child shows thoughtfulness and caring, and the deepest guilt and shame when it displays the same rage and obstinacy of its father. And what makes it all the harder is that, in the face of inarguable proof that the darkness must be abandoned, that broken, stained soul still longs for it with a great, empty ache. The darkness lived for too long, and is now an inseparable part of life, no easier parted with than one’s own finger.
But the struggle will continue, and it will continue because of that one, single person, and the child she gave him.
I love you, sweetie.
I have spoken of My Dying Bride before in this series, but their canon of despair is vast, and bears revisiting. Here is a tale of utter wretchedness, loneliness, bitterness and despair.
Imagine, for a moment, the abyss of complete isolation. Alone, upon an isle, lost at the end of the world. The sole companion – a light, that burns for no man.
Now consider the wretchedness of the memories of her, of the love that completed you, that made your heart whole, and the bitter knowledge that she is forever gone. Gone, to the winds, dust to the ground, and your fate is to live forever alone, never to be redeemed. Such have the gods done to you.
And the dreams, and the thoughts of madness. Sometimes, the sight of home behind closed eyes, the green trees and the laughter; sometimes, the waking to madness, the knowledge that such a past is forever gone. And sometimes, the bird visits; taunts, tells of life, and raises hope – only to dash it, like the water upon the rocks.
And then, just as the torment becomes the day and the night, to be expected forevermore – the gods bring mercy, and hope beyond hope! They make an offer: to spend one, single night with the woman, the long lost love. But oh, there is a price; this one night would seal the fate of eternity alone, until the ending of life.
Would you take it? Would you throw your hopes to the rocks, for one night with her?
The agony, the soul-crushing blackness, to wake the morning, and to find – after that one, oh-so-brief night – that she is gone. And gone, now and then, for ever, and ever. The doom, the screams, the despair.
Such is the terrible fate of the man who tends the light at the end of the world.
An isle, a bright shining isle
stands forever, alone in the sea.
Of rock and of sand and grass
and shade, the isle bereft of trees.
Small. A speck in the wide blue sea. ’Tis the last of all the land. A dweller upon our lonesome isle, the last, lonely man?
By the Gods he is there to never leave, to remain all his life. His punishment for evermore, to attend the eternal light.
The lighthouse, tall and brilliant white, which stands at the end of the world. Protecting ships and sailors too, from rocks they could be hurled.
Yet nothing comes and nothing
goes ’cept the bright blue sea.
Which stretches near and far
away, ’tis all our man can see.
Though, one day, up high on
rock, a bird did perch and cry.
An albatross, he shot a glance.
and wondered deeply, why?
Could it be a watcher sent?
A curse sent from the gods.
who sits and cries and stares at him,
the life that they have robbed.
Each year it comes to watch
over him, the creature from above.
Not a curse but a reminder of
the woman that he loved.
On weary nights, under stars,
he’d often lay and gaze.
Up toward the moon and stars.
The sun’s dying haze.
Time and again, Orion’s light
filled our man with joy.
Within the belt, he’d see his love,
remembering her voice.
The twinkle from the stars above,
bled peace into his heart.
As long as she looks down on him,
he knows they’ll never part.
One day good, one day bad.
The madness, the heat, the sun.
Out to sea, he spies upon land.
His beloved Albion.
Cliffs of white and trees of green.
Children run and play.
“My home land,” he cries and weeps,
“why so far away?”
Eyes sore and red. Filled with tears,
he runs toward the sea.
To risk his life, a worthy cause,
for home he would be.
Into the sea, deep and blue,
the waters wash him clean.
Awake. He screams. Cold with sweat.
And Albion a dream.
Such is life upon the isle,
of torment and woe.
One day good. One day bad.
And some days even hope.
The light at the end of the world
burns bright for mile and mile and mile.
Yet tends the man, its golden glow,
in misery all the while?
For fifty years he stands and waits,
atop the light, alone.
Looking down upon his isle
the Gods have made his home.
The watcher at the end of the world
through misery does defile.
Remembers back to that single night
and allows a tiny smile.
(His sacrifice was not so great,
he insists upon the world.
Again he would crime,
Again he would pay
for one moment with the girl.)
Her hair, long and black it shone.
The dark, beauty of her eyes.
Olive skin and warm embrace,
her memory never dies.
’Twas years ago, he remembers clear
the life they once did live.
Endless love and lust for life,
they promised each would give.
Alas, such love and laughter too,
was short as panting breath.
For one dark night, her soul was kissed,
by the shade of death.
(Agony, like none before,
was suffered by our man)
who tends the light now burning bright
on the very last of land.
(Anger raged and misery too
like nothing ever before.)
He cursed the Gods and man and life,
and at his heart he tore.
A deity felt sympathy
and threw our man a light.
“Your woman you may see again
for a single night.
But think hard and well young man,
there is a price to pay:
to tend the light at the end of the world
is where you must stay.
Away from man and life and love.
Alone you will be.
On a tiny isle. A bright shining isle
in the middle of the sea.”
“I’ll tend the light, for one more night
with the woman whom I love,”
screamed the man, with tearful eyes,
to the deity above.
And so it was that very night,
his lover did return.
To his arms and to their bed,
together they did turn.
In deepest love and lust and passion,
entwined they did fall.
Lost within each other’s arms,
they danced (in lover’s hall.)
Long was the night and filled with love.
For them the world was done.
Awoke he did to brightest light,
his woman and life had gone.
To his feet he leapt. To the sea he looked.
To the lighthouse on the stone.
The price is paid and from now on
he lives forever alone.
Fifty years have passed since then
and not a soul has he seen.
But his woman lives with him still
in every single dream.
’Tis sad to hear how young love has died,
to know that, alone, someone has cried.
But memories are ours to keep.
To live them again, in our sleep.