A Meditation on Shadows

The rain poured out of nowhere like the soothing brush of hands against the skin of the house, strengthening into a rake of tiny hailstones so as to scratch the apparent itch in the metal roof tiles and mossy skylights.  Tendrils of hail – pin pricks to a nasty rash – buffeted the house and sparkled in tiny bounces off the deck rails giving testament to their purposeful pressure treatment for a bored, lazy, and docile home.

Shadows appeared where before had been rays.  Dark over light – was something winning, and why hadn’t I been notified of the war?  Or was it just a contest?  Is there a difference?  Actually, shadows aren’t the equivalent of darkness; sometimes shadows are like a blanket over your lap as you sit in a comfortable chair on a Saturday afternoon.  Sometimes shadows aren’t foreboding.  Sometimes they keep the chill of real darkness from touching you.  Not exactly the absence of light – shadows – but the shade before pitch black, more like a softer pallet for the eyes to travel … giving more credibility to the surfaces, more notice for the edges of things.

Maybe that’s how it should be in good literature.  Bright lights spotlighting specific issues should be used sparingly to avoid overexposure, to help the eyes and soul adjust to the scenes of the crimes, or the scenes of love, the scenes of neglect and stupidity, the scenes of victory and salvation.  Shadows are magical in that regard.  Like running fingertips over piano keys softly, not producing notes of music in a traditional way, but accentuating the moment and exploration along with the silent words formed and forming in the mind.  Touch and sight combine with history and experience and flow in ink from the other hand, fisted around a pen, forming the story as it should be told.


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