By the light of a candle’s flame

I’m a very image-driven person. I am inspired by music and the written or spoken word, yes, but nothing moves me to create more than an image. Sometimes if I’m stuck for ideas, I browse through Pixabay or through my own photo albums, virtual and paper. This is what I thought when I saw these images.

I look into the flame and see…

Candles. Flames. Bobbing gently, like stars reflected in a pond. Shining points. Barely moving. Warm. Sun-bright. Thinning the darkness and concentrating it; the surrounding darkness grows smaller, denser, darker, like turning on night instead of light. Two candles together, mirroring. Let there be light. Rasp of match. And there was light.

Worship the light, as your ancestors did, for when the light was gone, the herds moved away, the food was gone, the heat, the shelter. You lost everything because there was no light. Pleading with the gods for another spring, another dawn, for the sun to rise again and bring new hope.

Prometheus stole me to illuminate Bede, to shine upon Shakespeare’s moving quill. Does the flame recall their struggles with words, with pages? The artist slaving in his garret, with only a flame to light his way, his hands and pages covered in spent wax, the litter of the revelation.

The questor in the labyrinth. Lighting one step at a time, no more. You move ahead by faith alone. At any moment the light could be snatched from your grasp and where would you be? Alone, in the dark, where the minotaur prowls. You hear its step ever closer, its breath on your cheek in the gloom.

The flame bobbing and dancing shows the presence of evil in your room. We used to tell one another ghost stories by this small light. We decorated our cave walls with the shape of things our dreams told us. Superstition, hand in hand with creativity. Reaching forward as well as back through time. Immemorial time. When time began, there was the light, ready and waiting to draw you onward.

The light on a tomb or grave, don’t let them go into the dark and be forgotten. The candle of prayerfulness and sorrow, of all-night vigils at bedsides, of pain and fear, of inability to understand the endless cycle of night and day. No relief found in this golden glow. The candle of celebration has been blown out. The last one to leave, turn out the light.

Does the candle see me? Is the flame aware of those who cluster moth-close around? I’ve seen it all before. You aren’t the first, you won’t be the last, to be awestruck by my intangible beauty. Flame is eternal, the word is fleeting.



One thought on “By the light of a candle’s flame

  1. I often wish I was image driven, though maybe we all are to a large extent given how the world works these days. I’d happily live in a candle-lit home if we could work out a way of making it safety-proof (especially with our cats!)

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