“As a man’s knowledge grows, and his power increases, the road he takes grows ever
narrower, until at last he does only and wholly what he must.” —Ursula K. Le Guin
Bicep, bone, bloodstream, esophagus,
coughing fits, apologies, laughter
in the vocal cords and a current of air—
a lamp sits on the table.
Plug it into the wall. Flip it on. Unplug it.
Reconnect. Be careful. You don’t see
the current moving, but you know
it’s there—a circuit.
You see a wire. A glimmer of light.
A backlit lampshade. A shadow.
A friend once gave a shadow-puppet show
in his living room, the paper cutouts
scissor-snip-precise and delicate, intricacies
intended to channel the light exactly
where he wanted it to shine:
eye socket, patterned shirt, in-between
strands of hair. Highlights in the dark.
Sometimes we are backlit.
Take a heart as example, or shock-pads
and monitors, or just the sound of a voice.
You don’t see the current moving,
but you know it’s there—a connection
to tend, to harness, to extend outward.
You see the body you were given, its intricacies
intended to channel the light exactly. You must.
Though you’ll cast a shadow.
From Hunger Mountain Issue 23: Silence & Power, which you can purchase here.
Art by @anna_croc01, curated by Dana Lyons.
Lizzy Fox is a poet and educator with an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she now works as Associate Director for the MFA in Writing & Publishing program. Her poetry appears in The Greensboro Review and has received the Laura J. Spooner Prize and the Corrine Eastman Davis Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of Vermont. In addition to her own writing, she teaches poetry and recitation in partnership with schools and arts nonprofits across the northeast, as well as online.