This poem was submitted independently by two readers in response to yesterday's offering (statius' 'to sleep'): Howard Weinberg and William Schubert :
(Poem #1343) Poem to be read at 3 a.m.
Excepting the diner On the outskirts. The town of Ladora At 3 a.m. Was dark but For my headlights And up in One second-story room A single light Where someone Was sick or Perhaps reading As I drove past At seventy Not thinking. This poem Is for whoever Had the light on
from "Night Light". [Howard's comments] Two things I like about this poem: the way it acknowledges the brotherhood of those who are not asleep; and the way it captures that midwestern gothic feeling, which is not at all about dentists with pitchforks, pace Grant Wood, but is about frail cones of light shimmering in the prairie darkness. It is plain, elegant, spare, devastating and, somehow, redemptive. Read it again. [William's comments] I am not an insomniac. My brain typically shuts down around 9pm and I get up for meditation around 4:15 so I have little understanding of insomnia however grateful I am that I don't suffer it. My social life has always been a bit truncated by my lack of enjoyment of anything that happens after 10pm. But, I feel the voices in this poem. I think it is because something in me travels in the night. I've been on the road through Ladora. Otherwise how could I so readily recognize the landscape of this simple poem. My life (all of our lives) zip along at 70 and it is so difficult to be aware in the present tense of that single light we passed, that single person who was by the roadside, that single soul existing in the periphery of our vision. Except in memory and regret at having not been sufficiently in the moment to connect with that other sentient inhabitant of our world. I read this poem for the first time in high school. It touched me then and has haunted me ever since. I've heard the sound of those tires on the streets of Ladora in the back of my mind for thirty five years. And I have more than once looked up and seen a lighted window and sent a thought there. Not alone. Not alone.