September 27, 2012 Slant of Light
“A Certain Slant of Light—on winter afternoons—that oppresses like the weight—of cathedral tunes. Heavenly hurt it gives us—we can fine no scar—but internal difference—where the meanings are,” wrote Emily Dickinson. The poem talks of light being as oppressive as faith, religion and God can be. Old age and death, Emily decides, is a painful transformation. Still, even death is not purely negative. The agony, it seems, comes from living alone inside one’s mind. Heaven is a truth that the living are not privileged enough to know about, thus dying is scary.
A Certain Slant of Light is also the title of a young adult novel by Laura Whitcomb. The book is about a 130 year old ghost or spirit named Helen. Helen is in love with a high school English Teacher, but of course nothing comes of it. Anyway, Helen possesses the body of Jenny so that she can with James. James possesses the body of Billy. Finally the two ghosts can be together. Only Jenny’s parents are super religious and very oppressive. Their control caused Jenny to commit suicide and eventually drives Helen to the same end.
The paranormal romance is soon to be a movie, which I am looking forward to seeing. Despite the suicide, sex and drugs the tragic story does have a happy ending. The ghosts go toward the light—of love and of heaven.
I thought it perhaps relevant. I can see me and Ray in the characters of Helen and James. Helen haunting the High School English teacher is like me hanging on to Ethan. Then suddenly I am seen by Ray like Helen is seen by James. We are two lonely spirits taking comfort in each others presence.
August 7, 2013 Under The Light
“Under the Light, yet under the grass and dirt,” wrote Emily Dickinson. Her poem is quoted by Laura Whitcomb at the beginning of her 2013 companion to A Certain Slant of Light, which is Under The Light. Like the poem, the book is about the connection between the dead and the living. I thought it was a good metaphor for my week as well. Like Dickinson, I feel that there is something just beyond my grasp. I know its there, yet I can’t see it. Rather it is the other side of mortal life or the other side of this particular part of my life, the elusiveness is the same.
Last year A Certain Slant of Light reminded me of Ray. This year I am reading the follow-up. I kept A Certain Slant of Light in mind as I wrote my story Franklin Church. It combined Ben’s 1997 escapade with Heidi Larak’s death in 2000. Heidi’s spirit consumes Staci’s life as I placed Heidi’s death before Ben’s B&E. I always wanted a paranormal story set there, but couldn’t find a plot. It finally came to me 10 years later! I am just thankful to finally have some inspiration. I even wrote a few poems! Perhaps Emily is with me in spirit!