Hilary Vaughn Dobel: Light Pollution

I can see Orion from here, barely,
as I sit in my car under a street-lamp
drinking rum and soda
with a Hostess cherry pie. Ninety-eight
point six, the heat of my body
in Farenheit, is the percentage
of mass the sun contains in our solar
system. The remainder includes planets,
satellites, and myself, of course, a little
lost somewhere outside Aberdeen,
a town the universe has forgotten
entirely. The cherry pie is almost
gone. A few months back, the city
installed the lamp overhead
with a long-burning halogen bulb
and an extra-large shade to stop
its brightness from causing light
pollution, a concept I don’t completely
understand, as most of the time I feel like
I could use more of it – to adjust
the car radio, maybe. Or to read
the nutrition facts on my bottle
of soda. In Norway, despite being
prodigious consumers of dairy,
women suffer alarmingly high rates
of osteoporosis caused by the brevity
of polar days. They are asking
for more light. In Ithaca, New York,
and in Aberdeen, men throw themselves
from bridges during endless sunless
winters. More light. At the zoo,
in the nocturnal house, insomniac
armadillos, unconvinced by sun-lamps
that it’s safe to close their eyes, go
mad, racing back and forth
the length of their cage. More light.
When the king’s murder is revealed,
Polonius comes forward, crying “Lights,
lights, lights!” and I’m flying at night,
wishing my house were surrounded
by those giant high-beams they use.
at car sales so I could find it again.
More light. I just know it’s going
to be me left in the basement
under the stage, howling like Hamlet,
like Goethe on his deathbed,
tripping the circuit breaker, howling,
More light.



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