Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M. - Donald Justice

Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poem
Is for whoever
Had the light on

Poems about a small connection between two people in the void have always resonated well with me.  Headlights on the highway passing a solitary room light on.  The smallest possible acknowledgment of another person invites imagination, and in this case, poetry.  It's like when you catch a stranger's eye in public, but as soon as you saw one another, you continue onwards about your business, with barely a passing thought.

I wonder if whoever inspired Donald Justice to write this poem ever ended up reading it.  It doesn't much matter if it doesn't, but it would certainly cause the poem to come full circle.

Of note in this poem is the light imagery, with its stark contrasts between the shadows of the night and the light of a room being passed by headlights.  A very vivid picture of two dots of light crossing in the night materializes in my head with this poem, and it's somehow very reassuring, knowing that even in the dead of night, somewhere, someone else is out there, and we are not, in fact, alone.