Sara Pirkle Hughes

THE SPEED OF LIGHT

I can make the sky any colour you choose. – James Turrell

Light is the fact of vision.
Humans are light-eaters,
subject to memory, beliefs, time.
Paint on windows. A solid wall.
Television screens. Childhood.
The ability to convey information.

Placing two colors beside one another
changes our perception of both.
So too does the sky change at dawn,
that deep expanse of crisp edges,
the threshold between the body
and the life-giving sun.

Therefore, an absence is a presence.
The human eye is the brain exposed,
looking at oneself looking.
Enter this world, this new
landscape without horizon,
without a vanishing point.

Do not allow the ground to remain
in control. Feel the floor end.
Let light pilot in. Embrace the shift
that comes with viewing
the earth as a maze, space as light,
life as a limitless series of tunnels.


SOURCE: “James Turrell: Into the Light”; MASS MoCA pamphlet, Spring 2018

METHOD: This poem has been constructed with the “erasure” method; the original source material are pamphlets from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). I was captivated by the ideas in each of the artists’ work described in the pamphlets, and after I eliminated large parts of the texts, I found a poem resided in each pamphlet. Therefore, the words in the poems appear in the same order that they appear in the pamphlets, but as I deleted the majority of the text, most of the word combinations / lines sound completely different from the original text.

Sara Pirkle Hughes is the author of The Disappearing Act, which won the 2016 Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. She is the Assistant Director of Creative Writing at The University of Alabama, where she also hosts the Pure Products Reading & Lecture Series.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana