Wednesday Poem

The Origin of Light

For a thousand years, the nature of light
was a source of debate, a question
that split the learned, who wondered if sight
originated as a beam coming in
from outside-the sun-or as a substance
generated inside, a stuff we shoot
out, to bathe the world and its occupants?
Curious. I never knew of this dispute
until a patient, about week before he died
of cancer, told me the story of Ali
al-Hasan, the curious man who tried
staring into the sun for as long as he
could take it. When the pain became too sharp
to stand, he understood, but it was dark.

by Jack Coulehan
from Rattle #16, Winter 2001

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