Poetry Friday: A Light Goes Out On The Fourth
In this week’s installment of Poetry Friday, Flagstaff physician Mark James brings us a poem about safety. Last year on the 4th of July, he witnessed a traumatic emergency while on a run to the top of Observatory Mesa. He was unable to help in the situation, but it stayed with him…how quickly things change, the transience of life and light. On this 4th of July, Mark shares his poem A Light Goes Out on the Fourth, his salute to emergency health care workers, and a reminder to all of us to stay as safe as we can this holiday weekend.
Red lights flashing, speed by, passing,
on wheels, carrying
to an urgent event;
on this day for observing
bright points of light
in a dark sky city,
on this day of celebration
for past days of glory
that fade so quickly.
Here, at Pluto’s home,
where one day, it is,
the next day, it is not.
Here, where starlight’s beginnings and endings align with heaven and earth;
where families gather to witness the arrival of remnants of prehistoric light,
come to rest.
We stop to gaze at what has been approaching
for such a long time,
Long enough that we forgot it was on its way,
that it has always been arriving,
even before our beginning.
We are still amazed at this constant occurrence.
Then, suddenly, a star falls;
and the stream of light goes out.
We exclaim with glee.
Then, a loved one falls
and their light goes out;
We grieve in despair.
9-1-1 arrives to strip off the body’s thin covering
and applies practiced rituals to bring light
back into this heavenly body.
Waves of pale skin rhythmically shudder
with each frantic compression.
A shocking crudeness amidst this elegance of physics.
Then, the ending quietly transforms
into a new beginning;
as resistance gives way to acceptance
on this time/space continuum.
Surrounded by shock, even while stilled with wonder,
a cry goes out to the heavens in recognition of this common cosmic event.
Next time, I’ll make a wish on a passing star;
Today, I’ll run in quiet solitude
in the beauty of pines,
as light shatters silence,
and memories return,
opening an awareness of the fleeting space
between each precious moment.