Night Vision

by Patricia Lynn Reilly

This poem is from Word Made Flesh by Patricia Lynn Reilly. Patricia explained that Night Vision was inspired by her night time in bed when imagination and dreams provided a safe excape from the troubles and sadnesses of the day at the Village. Many objects, people, and places in the Village are mentioned in abstract and are transformed into something not hurtful by night in her dreams. See if you can identify the references to objects, people, and places around the Village that Patricia includes in every stanza of her poem. Share your interpretations on the Village Memories discussion group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sjvillage

Night is a place, beyond time.
To enter you must have night vision.
The capacity to see what others don't.
Did you eat your carrots?

The big station wagon with wood panels
takes you there, no words are spoken;
before you know it, you've arrived.
The ladies in white are muzzled by the night.
They can't touch you when the lights are out;
they're afraid of the dark.

The Curlitopped Twins
play with fire while no one is watching.
They are alone, always alone in the night.
Their fear turns to fire before your eyes
and nothing is left of the day's terror.
It disappears in the night flames.

The Old Man of the Corridors
follows you everywhere; he says you steal everything.
The old woman, his wife, lives in a storeroom
with twenty wedding dresses, trench coats, and knives,
bought at midnight in Filene's basement.
In the dark she gives you twenty-dollar bills and scarves.

The Mama Who Forgets
during the day when its hard not to,
remembers moment by moment in the night.
You visit her in the sitting room
where she shows her polka-dot paintings,
the same images over and over again
yet her stories are always new.

Mary, the Homeless One
gives lessons in daytime survival:
Pretend to be plural during the day,
when uniformity is required for safety.
Return to the singular only at night,
a reunion with the edges of your solitude.

The Silver Cart
with a cow on the platter
and unnamed gifts from the sea,
moves on its own, slowly down the long road,
stopping to feed the children.
Only in the night, undetected,
do they dare eat from the silver cart.

The Veiled Woman
appears in the floor hourly
and the earth shakes.
Ten crystals drop at each sighting,
scattering into the corners.
One for each year you wandered in the desert.

Marie, the Choreographer
teaches you to dance in the middle of the night
where the definitions of the day cannot reach you,
where you become Mame, Fred Astaire, and Cleopatra.
A pretty girl with a melody, all around the town,
in the night place, in the magic space, beyond their expectations.

Leo, the Fat Woman
makes you laugh until you cry.
Her terrorizing awakens
the gargoyles in your soul.
She exiles you to the storeroom,
where the darkness is your friend.
On a sliver of light she returns
and you wish again for the dark.

The Artist from Turkey
signs in for a short stay.
You sit for him in the night.
He paints your picture with an O'Keeffe sky
and asks why your dreams never mention your name;
a distance preserved in fantasy and grace.

The Silver Dollars
are stored away someplace in the Night.
Had to leave them in a hurry a long time ago.
Tonight, you will find them
when the guardians of the light fall asleep,
when silver treasures return
as homing pigeons to their original owners.

Mocha Pearl
shows her jewels,
glistening from her belly button.
Gathered during the day,
in places unsuspected,
she shows them in the corners
and they glisten our way through the night.

Seamstress Jane
makes costumes in her closet,
where she fulfills your secret dreams.
A boy in the day, wrapped in a suit.
In Jane's dark closet, you wear a dress.
Now father won't touch you; he doesn't like girls.
A girl in the day, swathed in pretty things.
In Jane's closet, you wear strong overalls.
No one will catch you, now that you can run.

The Women Wearing Hair Nets
stand behind the counter.
They make grilled cheese
and give you pudding for desert.
The goldfish and turtles join you.
In the night they're set free and
give lectures on life before the tank.

Father God
lays out the robes for you to wear after dark.
Come, he says, try them on. Feed me the host.
He eats a bag of them, dipped in steak sauce,
chocolate milk, and your blood.
He opens the closet and his shiny black shoes dance
to his music. When the sun rises, the party's over,
he wipes your mouth and sends you home.

The Silver Sink
swallows you in its bigness.
In it, you scrub pots during the day;
at night, it's your warm bubble bath,
the stains of the day disappear down the drain;
cleansed, you are safe in its moist darkness.

Night is a place, beyond time.
To enter you must have night vision.
The capacity to see what others don't.
Did you eat your carrots?


Words Made Flesh, by Patricia lynn Reilly has several other writings pertaining to the Village as well as works that reflect upon religion and spirituality and challenge traditional beliefs about organized religion. Click here to read the description and purchase the book.




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