Let Light Shine Out of Darkness

The title of this poem is an imperative. Whether it is directed at the reader or the author is unclear. The first line, “I live in a body that does not have enough light in it,” seems to frame the entire book. It is an attitude toward oneself that is critical and despairing, yet seeking.

“Once, I even said to the body I live with: I think I need more light in my body, but I really did not take this seriously as a need, as something I deserved to have.” Deserve is such an interesting choice here, for what are needs but those things which we deserve? We need food, water, shelter, clothing. We deserve them as human beings. Do we deserve light in the same way? And what is this light he speaks of? “… something blue or green to shine from my rib cage….” Like something unearthly within us. The soul?

“Other times when I am talking about lightness I am talking about breath and space and movement/ For it is hard to move in a body so congested with images of mutilation.”

This is our modern dilemma. How modern is it, one might ask? Isn’t it the human dilemma throughout our existence as a species? Violence. Mutilation. Toward one another, animals, the earth itself. How different is war and slaughter now than it has ever been?

Then there is the cruel framed as one-liners: “Did you hear the one about the illegal immigrant who electrocuted his employee’s genitals? Did you hear the one about the boy in Chicago whose ear was bitten off when he crossed a border he did not know existed?”

“I want to give you more room to move so I am trying to carve a space, with light, for you to walk a bit more freely.”

Is he really, though? It seems less like he is carving a space for us to move more freely and more like he is trying to shine light on the darkness – congest our bodies with images of mutilation. I find it hard to breathe sometimes reading Borzutzky. The denseness and the brutality of his writing makes me feel as though I am being buried alive.

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