A glimpse, a flicker: a shadow-movement
Almost seen, unseen barely.
Adumbrated in the dark,
Nimble came, quickly went.
What is this? and what desires?
Where from? Where gone?
A fright, a chill, a fear perhaps,
A fear of hope that long aspires.
A darkling thing – or was it light?
(So it seems to seem to be!) –
Or was it play of black on black,
Mere flash of black upon the night?
See! Look there! A candle … careful –
Closer – closer – oh … 'tis gone.
But search, search on, it leads us on;
A moth it is – it seeks for fire.
No flash is this, no dusky flash –
'Tis light, a presage of the dawn:
Not dawn itsgelf, for dawn yet waits.
It trembles like a fleck of ash
Settled aground, anxious, airy,
In the corner, standing close
Against the wall ... it moves again!
It flutters soft, so soft, so wary.
Shadow of substance, delicate, fine.
What could it be? Why this fear?
Why this dread for a thing so fragile?
Why this wish to make it mine?
'Tis not a moth, no moth at all –
Clearer now – less shadowed, hidden.
Quick! The lamp! A light unbidden!
Ah, a bird – no moth, no moth –
It slips away on silent wings
A wing-tip farther than our reach
toward the East, toward the morn
this blackbird flies and flees and sings
Emerging from the dead of night
Impatient for the sun to rise.
It flies, we follow, called, drawn
unasked, to chase this phantom sight.
Up it soars – far and higher –
We soar, too ... fly free, so free.
As helpless leaves before a wind
We chase this burning Shadow-Fire.
Copyright © John Mudge | Year Posted 2015
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