Strangers in the Light

There is too much light in the world
too much light.
I have always feared blindness,
and yet it seems to me now
that if I could return to the dark place
where light did not constantly wash over me
demanding my attention and demanding
that I should present myself to the light,
then I would be able to be
just what I want to be
just what I really am
and then I would be able
to find my own light inside me
and truly to believe in my own light.

I could never see properly with my left eye.
Maybe it was blinded
by the light that burst over me when I was born
Born too sudden, born without warning
shooting from the womb like a bullet from a gun,
shooting out into the bright light
yet not into the light of day
but into the harsh electrical light of a hospital ward
(for I was born in the late evening)
fluorescent lights in the ceiling
and a bedside lamp with naked bulb close to my face
and a doctor’s torch shining straight in my eye
and my left eye was blinded, and my right eye
gazed in amazement and terror
at the white faces in the white light
faces of doctors looking down at me grimly
They were tired, they had had a long day,
they wanted to go to bed
so they took me to my bed, and left me there
and they turned off the light
and I was left not knowing what had happened
not knowing what the light was that had come and gone
knowing only that I was alone
in a world where the light could strike and blind me.


And then in the morning they took me to my mother
and I did not know who she was
and she did not know who I was.
We gazed at each other uncomprehendingly
seeing and yet not seeing
in the unaccustomed light.
We had been lovers in the darkness;
we were strangers in the light.

I love you, Mother.
I know that you did not do this to me.
They did it to both of us.
They blinded us with the light.

David Hamblin, 1996.