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North Truro


ISSUE:  Autumn 1942

Slowly our car climbed the sandy hill and ever above our heads we saw the light spinning its huge wheel from the distant hub: As if the clock of heaven had been wound into a frenzy—sun after sun after sun—
The long shears cutting the fabric of the night into a weird succession of quick dawns and sudden settings . . .
and then at the road’s twistthat old mansion clinging to the cliff’s face desperate as a drowning man—
“How queer I” you cried, “See how every shaft just swings across that window there . . . finger of a ghost And now the beam was streaking down the hill like a hare, but as it disappeared, swiftly rose a new shaft swiftly as a relay-runner rose and sped across the night-sky without sound . . , “There 1” you cried, “There it goes again! Right across the drawn window-shade!”
0  pity the sleeper,
I thought, as we parked the car and mounted the spiral stair to the flashing core; pity all would-be sleepers who await
behind the drawn shades of their moldering house
the cold inevitable coming of the light,
and pull the blankets over their tight eyes,
and cry Stop! to that which will not stop—
Precisely as a planet’s orb is traced,
so is the pathway of that beam across their beds
and comets flare and burst in their retreat 1
Now were we at the birthplace of the light:
the incandescence jetting from the mirror-womb
thru the bellied panes into the night,
down the endless alleys of the night
from that sure tower to the foundering ship . . .
And as I watched the old lighthouse-keeper
moving so securely in that maze of prisms,
guiding with a surgeon’s steady hand
the cold blue lancets of light
that stabbed into the abscess of my sleeper—
I  saw in him and in his level eyes
all the lighthouse-keepers of our time, all the masters of the hall of mirrors, all the valiant ones who have pursued the gleam to the very workshop of its being, climbed the beacon’s heart without fear, pulsed with its pulsing, and so learned the terrible freedom of necessity: plucking golden fruits in a prison . . .
Fear not for them . . . pity only frantic denizens of ruined houses . . .
All night heard the sleeper cry and in the morning when I woke The sea stretched—greengold as a cat’s eye.

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