Friday, December 21, 2007

Poetry Friday: 96% of the Universe is Dark

After reading this article in The American Scholar, I was inspired to create an occasional poem. This is dedicated to all my readers, on the longest night, which is also the beginning of the light.

96% of the Universe is

Open the door
and greet the moment
the dark begins. 

The dark, like a road
poured to your door
has brought to you the world,
to shelter from brilliance.

Open the door 
and greet the moment
the dark begins.

The world spins
by a twisting dark scarf
pulled from its shoulders.

Open the door 
and greet the moment
the dark begins.

Every hand! All hands! 
To to edge! Catch hold 
of the dark that unrolls
before your door.

Open your door.
Open your door. The moment.
The moment the dark begins.

All! Pull! Strive!
We must turn
the earth ourselves
this night.

Sink your hands into the dark
cloth, fold upon fold.
Plunge your hands in,

your little warmed air,
coddled in closed throat,
rips from you,

breath taken by the
fierce strings.

Hold to. Hold to. 
Lean back and pull.

Not every door has opened this night.
Not every hand has taken hold.
Not every breath sacrificed.

But enough.
Enough, if you pull.
Pull! Take hold of the night!

The dark cloth, the heavy bolt,
the hours and hours
you roll into your hands,

strand by strand,
you put away the longest night
like a beloved carpet,
rolled tight against wear.

Each takes a little inside,
a thin fiber of dark breath
hidden until called out,

when night has starved
itself into summer
and cries stars.

Come out and greet
with me the moment 
the dark begins

and you will have rooms
and rooms of beauty

each other day,
every other day,
every other thread

all the night and day
will be yours.

----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

I read this poem out loud at my poetry page, A Cast of One.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by AmoXcalli.


  1. I need to read this over and over again. It's lovely, and makes me a little tearful somehow.

    Listening to you read it is even better.

  2. I'm so glad you postponed your blog break for a day. This is lovely, but I too am feeling a bit melancholy upon reading it. I'm going to head over and listen to it now.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

  3. That is beautiful. I'm going to have to read it again and again later, too, since my girls were squabbling behind me (not that I was ignoring them; it was the kind of silly squabble they needed to work out for themselves). Anyway, this requires silence.

    As a loyal reader, thanks for the gift.

    Jules, 7-Imp

  4. The scarf/bolts of cloth is a wonderful metaphor (reminds me of Yeats). I love the weaving of day and night in the last stanza. Taking hold of the dark is a challenging idea. I see something new with each re-reading. (Applause) What a gift!

  5. Pulling with all the breath I have over here! Keep singing us out...

  6. Do I ever know about turning the earth myself.

    I love hearing you read it on the other site, too, Sara.

  7. "when night has starved
    itself into summer
    and cries stars."

    Gorgeous imagery!

  8. I don't know how many have the time to follow the links in my intro and title, but the "longest night" link leads to a spiritual approach to thinking about darkness and "dark" in the title of the poem leads to more scientific approach, considering what the universe is made of.

    I don't pretend to be able to explain my poem, any more than I can explain the universe. But I know that darkness is a huge part of it, and I honor that.

  9. This poem is stunning in its imagery and power. I'm a big fan of your poetry, but this is my new favorite.

    This bit - The dark, like a road
    poured to your door - what a wonderful image that conjurs!

    The power of this poem, it's rhythm and cadence makes me think of poets of old, the ones who wrote of ships on the sea, of storms and wars and causes.


  10. Sara,

    Thanks so much for the link to that article. What a great poetry project--and what a terrific experience for those students!

    Thanks, too, for sharing another fine original poem with us.


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