Out Divine Corners Way: January 2022

Out Divine Corners Way
by Jonathan Shimkin

January 2022

In a recent poem, Louise Glück designated December “the month of darkness,” and, solstice-wise, that’s certainly so, yet I find the light of December the most compelling of the year, as if its beauty were in inverse proportion to its growing scarcity, and I don’t mean just because of the augmented glow of the month’s celebratory candles and bonfires and Christmas lights; I mean the natural light alone, in all its shifting registers, undergoing variations on any given day that feel unique to the season – the way, for example, on a morning when there’s been snowfall overnight, one can tell, even while it’s still dark, that something has happened, for the reflective property of the blanketing whiteness appears to amplify whatever ambient light is at large in the atmosphere – starlight or moonlight or unseen frequencies the eye can’t detect – and gives rise to a subtle shimmer, like a glamour, too fine to register directly on the senses yet impressing itself upon one’s awareness nonetheless, drawing one forth into the new day, primed for the more pronounced greeting of a wintry sunrise, the kind where a furiously concentrated patch of red or purple lies low across the horizon, compressed down by masses of dark cloud and looking like a tear or rift in the cloud fabric through which color is seeping, until the dense light gradually softens and spreads more generally abroad in a suffusion of red and pink and violet, so that by the time I’m on my way to work, turning onto Route 52 from Divine Corners Road, skirting the southern end of Loch Sheldrake, the lake itself has become one huge reflective surface, mirroring the sky’s colors and gracing the world with a continuous flush of color in all directions at once, at least for a few minutes, until it settles down to the transparency and more sedate delineations of day, which signals a shift of my attention to the workday ahead, during the course of which I pause only in passing to notice the light, the peculiar sheen of the December sky, buffed by the colder air like polished metal, glinting a flinty blue or gray (and such a fine array of grays in winter: silver and stone, charcoal and slate), gradually modulating, as the day dwindles and the dark comes on again, into the Blue Hour (that brief period when the sun dips below the horizon and the atmosphere becomes most receptive to the blue-indigo-violet end of the spectrum, around 4:30 in the afternoon at mid-month), which smolders down quickly into night, and the only light that remains on my drive back up Route 17 is vehicular – the red of brake lights and the glare of high-beams, stretching out along the road like a string of Christmas tree lights – until I return to Divine Corners Road, which is always a few degrees darker than anywhere else, a long stretch of unsettling darkness punctuated by a series of irregularly placed streetlights, each one casting an isolated pool of light down upon the road, each pool a thrill to plunge into and out of again, each one a marker that I’m closer to home, my progress punctuated as well by the glow emanating from the windows of scattered houses along the way, like ports of call on a dark sea, till I arrive at the last lit window: home, that harbor and hearth where all the shifting registers of the day’s light resolve into sleep, into whatever light it is by which we see our dreams – the unchanging, continuous, interior light of our own sentience, that animates our eye from within and makes it so that, whatever conditions our waking eye encounters, when we wake, we wake to our eye’s own light.
Jonathan Shimkin, writer and editor, may be contacted at jonathanshimkin@gmail.com, or via his website: jonathanshimkin.weebly.com