My shadow dogs my path. It dwarfs me,
this daemon, this desolate god.
Could I live shadow-free ?
Would I fly ?
What would be left of me ?
Here are some more thoughts on the shadow :
I can say this with real pride :
no one but I
throws my shadow.
I call it my under-self, my field
of operation. I cannot
call it home.
I glimpse it sometimes, usually at night,
leaping the wet rocks
as the tall seas break and pursue ;
or poised for a moment of a bare grey tree-stump
calm after that stoop for eternity
out of the wind, the clutch of the mist ;
or sidling with gleeful expertise
through the ranks of the juggernauts –
that blind, brutal caravan…
My Shadow at Bedside
My shadow leaps on me
each time I sleep –
to devour me.
Yet still my mornings
find me whole
and at each waking
there my shadow hangs
like empty sacking
against my wall –
wholly at my disposal.
Kiss of the Dark Angel
The dark angel of my dreams
was dreadfully beautiful
lithe and invincible
sans eyes sans mouth
his head like a smooth bulb
dark and gleaming.
I knew I could not hope
to escape and yes
here he comes pouring
up the stone steps
by the sea-shore, the waves
wild behind him
straight up at me
outwitting me without effort
in our life-long race,
glorious in his searing energy.
I submit, powerless and rapt
as the lipless angel kisses me
taking my face.
How have I allowed
my shadow to grow so tall ?
It rises from my lamp
like a vast giggling genie.
“Your wish is my command,
O Master,” my genie roars.
And I quail.
It winks at me
and for that moment
I see nothing
anywhere in the world.
I threw my shadow
all over town –
It leaned across at me
from each echoing underpass
from each foul lift-shaft
from each despairing alley-way.
I scattered my shadow like seed
across the fields –
and the seed bounded from the earth
like a mob of heroes
who chased me and harried me
and reduced me before the whole world.
I caught my shadow by the throat
and flung it into a pit
and packed the pit with sand
boulders and rich cement
and when all had set
hard as rock
I turned to escape, shrieking with relief –
a hand formed of new rock
siezed my heel.
I stood there above my pit
locked in my shadow.
Three-way Encounter between Me, my Shadow and the dread lord Number One
I have this enemy
my “inveterate foe”
my enemy Number One.
Whenever we meet, my enemy
wastes me. I become zero.
All meaning drains from me.
I become a flatness on the road
a vague ugliness in the air
an abortion. And I have nothing
I can call on, no wild cards
no reserve forces, no hidden energies
to throw into the field.
I call my enemy “Number One.”
I don’t know what it looks like
for it borrows any form
it chooses. And is it “He ?” or “She ” ?
It is random and boundless.
It is All. All is “It.”
And I never have warning
of an encounter. No clouds
of dust on the horizon,
no slow rumble of feet, no tensing
of greased muscle, no pause in sound.
Simply my shadow deserts me.
And suddenly I lose my footing.
My ground just goes, my hold on space.
I look about me. I’m not here.
I reach for anything I have
anything that makes me
anything that marks and shapes me.
I reach for my history
my unique possession –
it’s gone it’s an empty lift shaft.
I reach for my voice
my shaping words my answer my shriek –
and the words give in the wind
and all my forming my bite on the air
collapses like a slack sail
like a shower of teeth.
I reach for my rage my saving grace –
and find nothing but a gasping franticness
an incapacity, a self-immolation
and all that comes of my rage
for survival is a rush to give ground
and yield all to the poised advance of my destroyer.
I writhe in the air like a foreign element
marooned here here above ground
hanging like a fish by the tail
held in triumph one Summer’s evening.
I am a transparency held to the sunlight
open to any examination.
And I cry to my shadow
“Why now ?” Why desert me
now ? Each breath of my life
I have sought to escape you
to fly weightless
to exist in pure mind
to secure utter distinctness
to achieve eternity.
Must now be the time I at last succeed
now when I need your earth ?
For my infidelity
you desert me to our ruin.”
And Number One, deep in its steel case
lashing at forests, at continents, at cities,
befouling ocean, air-wave, blood-stream,
of zealots to slaughter their fellows
in the name of a phantasm
breeding the will to deceive,
tending the urge to piracy and plunder
nurturing despair, aiding inertia
working deep in, working slowly
to the very core, paring
particularising, severing, numbering
Number One turns from its vast enterprise
hissing in glee
at my distress
and whispers :
“From whence do you consider
stem my victories?”
…My shadow carries my shape and moves with my movements. But it has no features and it never speaks ; and all sorts of strange forms or colours could be hidden in its darkness. Its shape keeps shifting and often it simply disappears. But then it returns. When I am happy I dance and with me my shadow dances. We dance together. When I am ill at ease, I labour and constantly I look back in dread and see my shadow pursuing me, threatening me.
Sometimes, then, my shadow seems to be my loyal and faithful friend, at others my implacable and inescapable enemy. To befriend my shadow would appear to be essential if I am to live successfully here on Earth.
If someone or something overshadows me, I receive immediate protection from the Sun and am relieved of the immense responsibility of my own shadow. On the other hand I am weakened, deprived of my energy and autonomy. It is as if my shadow has been stolen from me, eaten up by a stronger force.
And this in turn implies that my shadow is an important energy source and that I should retain that energy by insisting on my personal independence. Accordingly I must allow nothing and no one to overshadow me. For the Earth is sick and any creative source of energy which can retain wholeness must now devote itself to restoring the Earth.
© Rogan Wolf