The Tyndall Effect

The phenomenon in which light is scattered by particles of matter in its path.

Somewhere between here
& now is where & when
it might happen,
the event I hope for, & invest in,
its effect & feeling
of lightness
& particularity, a sense, a way
not forward or backward
but perhaps in.
This morning, for instance,
I watched through my second-story
window fog diffuse
the sunlight over the Piedmont,
as it does my high beams
driving home through the dark, particles
in a very fine suspension,
I think this might be how.
To sit still & move
at 60mph through lit mist
is a beginning, begins to render
what I’m after & into,
Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, for violin, strings,
& percussion, filling my chambers,
my cab, in stereo,
I crane & the seat belt sashes me
tighter. Not to move
at high speed, but be moved
through, to almost float.
And there I am again, more than
memory, all the way up
in the final row
of the packed Kennedy Center,
sound pressing me
against the back wall, the nosebleeds,
eyes half-closed, that tear
I didn’t quite shed
catches the soft light of sconces, holds it,
trembling, for two hours,
there the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra
conjures a cool sonic cathedral,
builds a sanctuary
city, empties
our corporate body of its volume
& care, there
we simulate zero-gravity.
I crest the hill, trusting in nothing
to appear. But he did
appear, whispers across the audience:
He’s actually here—Arvo.
And now as he bows imagine
the music returns to his ears
like bees to their tunnels
hidden underground,
a few notes caught
in his long gray beard.
And if I wanted to hear
through the window leaves fall
or quiver or spin, this bright
littering, & so presume
to hear what I see,
while dew burns off
the field’s scramble of high grass, kudzu,
yucca, raspberry, squat pines, poplars
& firs? Call it
a lyric of light & fog.
The Evergreen & Quicksilver Variations.
Call it sound-bearing silence.

Stephen Hitchcock

Stephen Hitchcock received an MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poems have appeared in Juxtaprose, Ruminate, storySouth, Post Road, and elsewhere. He serves as the executive director of The Haven, a low-barrier day shelter and housing resource center in downtown Charlottesville, VA.

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