Joan Mazza

How Light Shines

We like it slant, as at dawn and dusk,
and twilight’s calm dimming. We like it
indirect, a suggestion that tells you
where your feet are safe to place, mellow

hues from corners and crown molding,
not the prickly glare of bare bulbs
or fluorescents with their constant hum.
Give me Chinese paper lanterns, disco

lights for dancing to a beat. Just once,
give me the spotlight, then shine it elsewhere
when I step into the shadowed wings.
Ten minutes at high noon on bare skin,

long enough to make a little Vitamin D
with a splash of melanin, but not so much
to damage collagen or disrupt cell division.
Gentle me with candlelight, firelight, embers,

a reading lamp next and wide chair where
I can nest with a quilt that holds some heft.
Give me the gleam in the eyes of my beloved—
one furry companion who stays for twenty years.

Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops nationally with a focus on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her work has appeared in Italian Americana, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and The Nation. She is self-isolating at her home in rural central Virginia.

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