Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 2 , November 2015


The Shadow Gallery

Brett Dionysius

for Nathan Shepherdson

  It starts with a sun. A cutlass of light 
  slashes at your head & runs your shadow
  up your body’s length; a pirate’s black flag.
  When embracing your lover, your shadows 
  fall in love again & meld into each other 
  like droplets of dark water pooling.
  Shadows are where the old gods took refuge
  hiding in plain sight. They are immortal so 
  long as there is a body of faith. You are not.
  Your shadow sticks to you like a pilot fish
  or a lamprey. You sustain it & take it for
  a ride. Your shadow cannot carry you.
  Gravity does not affect your shadow. It is 
  not a thing as we know it. It does not have 
  molecules, only the shadows of molecules. 
  The fundamental laws that govern 
  the universe, do not govern it. You are 
  the event horizon to your own black hole.
  When you look up at the night sky
  the dark bits you see between the 
  pinpricks of stars are not shadows.
  Shadows are not dark matter.
  Shadows are not dark energy.
  Shadows are their own quanta.
  Your shadow is shackled to you by 
  leg-irons of light. At night your shadow 
  escapes only to be caught by dawn.
  At dawn your shadow lies around 
  you like the negative of the chalked 
  outline of a freshly murdered body.
  Often other people’s shadows will fall
  across yours. There are no sparks as in
  the flesh. Only a dark meshing of gears.
  Your shadow can walk up walls & cliff-
  faces. They are like beetles; electrons are 
  powerless to keep them from climbing.
  In the late afternoon your shadow mutates.
  They are dark furred lycanthropes that grow
  three times your size & stalk behind you.
  Shadows fear total eclipses of the sun;
  totality is their version of Armageddon.
  They are often black-bagged by the moon.
  The sun’s atmosphere, its pink corona 
  is your shadow’s idea of God. It’s gaseous
  core is a searing translation of heaven.
  Clouds trick shadows by making them vanish 
  into the earth’s top hat. Who’s to say where 
  the magician’s cape ends & its shadow begins? 
  Your shadow has limbs, a head, a trunk
  but no tongue. It is noiseless like Charon’s
  black sail that propels him across the river Styx.
  Your shadow likes to pose with you in photos.
  In old age your shadow will even try to prop you up. 
  In death, your shadow folds around you like a dark wing.