Today in London, after three weeks, the lockdown has been extended for at least another three. I’ve heard from friends and family isolating, how time has lost its regular pace and days feel merged into each other. With no clear end in sight it feels like the whole planet is in limbo, waiting for some transformation, looking for signs of relief or change, not being sure of quite what that might be.
I came across this poem by Linda Gregg and found that it perfectly summarised this thread of thought I had been trying to give words to. Linda was an award winning American poet who passed away last year - and who I’ve always admired for writing precisely about complex and overlooked subjects.
I asked a poet friend to voice these gorgeous lines, so you can hear along.
The Light Continues
By Linda Gregg
Every evening, an hour before
the sun goes down, I walk toward
its light, wanting to be altered.
Always in quiet, the air still.
Walking up the straight empty road
and then back. When the sun
is gone, the light continues
high up in the sky for a while.
When I return, the moon is there.
Like a changing of the guard.
I don’t expect the light
to save me, but I do believe
in the ritual. I believe
I am being born a second time
in this very plain way.
“I don’t expect the light / to save me, but I do believe / in the ritual” — the ritual of observing the day and the next and the next, seems to me the only way to hold to the passing moment. Going through the day without any expectation from it and yet believing in the gestation that is happening in this “plain” way. It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from Rilke, where in a letter to Franz Kappus he wrote about not expecting answers when we are not ready for them, but instead doing the work of sitting with the questions themselves. Linda’s poem gives me patience to look at this moment in time, as a question I cannot yet know the answer to, and believe that this too, shall pass.
I hope this poem allows you to see the passing of each day as a ritual worth holding your attention and faith to.
Stay home, stay safe.