Deep Light

From far a light, maybe a hill ranch
remote and unvisited, beams on the horizon
when we pass; then it is gone.
For the rest of our lives that far place
waits; it’s an increment, one more
hollow that slips by out there, almost
a gift, an acquaintance taken away.

Still, beyond all ranches the deep
night waits, breathing when we breathe,
always ready to offer new light,
over and over, so long as we search
for something so faint most people
won’t know, even when it is found.

— by William Stafford, 1993

I can see my parents’ yard light from my kitchen window, and early this evening I happened to look out there (I look out while I’m filling someone’s water glass from the fridge water dispenser), and the yard light blinked off. I actually braced myself, waiting for the electricity outage to travel down the road to my house. Except, I’m pretty sure it goes the other way. Our house would go out first. It was probably just the wind blowing snow across my vision of their light. The wind is howling cold tonight.

And it was that sort of night, too, when I had about given up searching for lights in the darkness. I’m still not smiling, not even on the inside. But there were faint things, I suppose. My daughter’s preference for Robin Hood over Magic School Bus books. An encouraging email I hadn’t expected. A warm quilt in a cold room. I pray I never really, truly stop searching for those lights.


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