• Caro Fentiman

Musings on light

In June, when the sun is high, the morning light glares through the gilded fabric of my blind before the alarm rings. I’m ashamed to say that sometimes I resent the early intrusion, though months later I will crave its reflection on my white walls as I lie in bed and ponder the day ahead. I‘ll dream of the early summer mornings spent leaning back on my pillow, watching the dust dancing in the sun’s rays.

Winter skies take longer to emerge from the inky blue night, but the reward is greater. The appearance of the sun seems to be a miracle, though it happens again and again. The burnished pinks that streak the horizon dart like fairies in front of my eyes.

As December arrives I find that much of my interaction with light involves the glare of artificial bulbs. An unexpected spell with a poorly child in hospital means that much of my time is spent inside under fierce strip lighting, or wandering city streets, car headlights dazzling my eyes.

Hard to say with clarity how light has affected my mood in recent weeks: snatched hours of sleep on a noisy ward have created a sense of horrible unreality, a bad dream that I cannot wake up from. I am as hard as the shells I collect from the beach but brittle too, and liable to crumble at any moment. The festive lights hanging from lamp posts, angels blowing trumpets above department stores, fill me with desperation rather than a warm glow - what will Christmas look like? A year that has seen the world shattered seems to be ending with a personal crisis that is overshadowing even the bleakest of national moods.

And yet beyond the city council buildings in Newcastle the moon, slowly waning, hangs bright and brilliant over the North Sea. A beacon watching over me, constant and inextricably linked to the tides that soothe me. But the dark sky, too, is a cloak around my shoulders, and is as much of a balm as the blue sheen of the moon. My body responds: shoulders curl, head bows down. I am as small as it is possible to be in the vastness of the night.

Tonight I feel safe in the shadows, though the absence of light often signals danger. In the notorious witching hour, when darkness swamps rational thoughts, the fairy lights flickering around my bed calm my racing heart and cast their delicate beams around the room.

No monsters.

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