Counting on A Spark to Save Me with lines from Amy Lowell A lighthouse skews romantic. Its remote location on a moody windswept coast, its isolation, a brooding devotion to keep a fire burning. Its promise of safety but also final caution, its brightness a precursor to the wreck. I watched disaster come and thought myself protected. Silly human. Optimist. Now adrift, I seek any hint of glow to guide me. Ember, matchstick, candle flame. A thousand watts or a cell phone flashlight. How dark it is. I row and row, unsure of finding shore. Always we are following a light. Always a light recedes. I row some more.
This Little Light of Mine As a girl, every Sunday, the song would insist that I let it shine. All the time. I didn’t want to, but I had no choice. I wanted to be smoke, to be cloud. When I was scared, I tried hiding it under a bushel, dumping out the apples on the dewy grass and crawling underneath. But the song was right. It wouldn’t go out. When I was angry, I felt the devil blow hard, breath reeking of ash and tar and rot, but the wick rekindled. No luck. I traipsed around the neighborhood, dragging my dogged flame, glowing in inclement weather despite my best efforts to dim. Me the moon. Me the sunrise. Me the halo the reading lamp leaves on the ceiling. At night, when the world embraced the dark, I would stuff it beneath the pillow, its glare obtrusive. Obnoxious, even. I would cry, and even the tears would shimmer on my cheeks. I didn’t want my goddamned light to shine. I was tired of being radiant. I wanted to be onyx and raven feather, to be coffee grounds and wet earth. I didn’t want it. The energy it took to be luminous. This burden. This light.
From the Author: I have been exploring the idea of invisibility as related to gender, age, and emotional state. These pieces use light as metaphors for both wanting to be seen and to disappear, one speaker seeking light, the other seeking to extinguish it.
Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Poet Lore, Cherry Tree, Salamander, Harpur Palate, Superstition Review, and other journals. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago where she serves as an associate editor for Rhino Poetry and hosts the monthly online reading series A Hundred Pitchers of Honey.