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The Light of the World

The Light of the World

A love story

Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is not felt in the absence of love. ‘The queen died and then the kind died’ is a plot, wrote E. M. Forster in The Art of the Novel, but ‘The queen died and then the king died of grief’ is a story.”

This is from a wonderful book, The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander.

It is a love story. It is a love story about loss.

Now I know for sure that the soul is an evanescent thing and the body is its temporary container, because I saw it. I saw the body with the soul in it, I saw the body with the soul leaving, and I saw the body with the soul gone.”

If you’ve been with someone you love at the instant of death, you know the truth of her words.

A new self reveals itself when the old carapace has shed and died, as though we live in exoskeletons with something truer underneath.”

She is a poet who has managed to put into words the feelings of love and loss.

Art replaces the light that is lost when the day fades, the moment passes, the evanescent extraordinary makes its quicksilver. Art tries to capture that which we know leaves us, as we move in and out of each other’s lives, as we all must eventually leave this earth.”

She gives voice to what happens to us in the face of loss, the loss of the most important person in our lives.

Nowadays, I feel like plans are all that stands between me and the end of my life.”

She shares what she has seen to be true.

‘It’s not easy to die, sweetie,’ Ficre used to say to me when I’d have night terrors and wake in a panic. ‘I’ve seen people survive, and I know.’ I’d always had bad dreams and his words and presence were all that ever calmed me down, It’s not easy to die; life force is actually mighty, and I have life force. It is not indelible, but it can behave like it is. We all die, but we don’t die easily.”

She shares the assurance that love, indeed, survives.

I dream we are moving…we are glad to be going wherever we are going. It is just the two of us walking a long, gently curved road, holding hands. At a fork in the road, Fircre lets my hand go and waves me on. You have to keep walking, Lizzy, he says. I know it is the only truth, so I walk. I look back. I look back. I can still see him, smiling and waving me on. It was the two of us walking the road and now he has let my hand go. I walk. I can always see him. His size does not change as I move forward. I can still feel the feel of my hand in his hand, as I walk. I wake and room is flooded with pale yellow light.

After all, our stories, the stories of our lives, are always love stories.