Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

What Is Not Missing Is Light

Bridgette Bates’s poems have appeared in Boston Review, Fence, jubilat, VERSE, and elsewhere. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a “Discovery” Prize, she is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Originally from Nashville, she lives in Los Angeles where she writes for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and is a features contributor to Kirkus Reviews.

From What Is Not Missing Is Light

Regarding sanctuary: Replace all the snow references with sand. There is no winter closing in, here every sky widens with blue. Weather is a brief delay to an outdoor concert and it doesn’t storm enough to even mention the rain. Here electricity is an endangered species because we have infinite light. The hurricane lamps are for decoration. There are never true wildfires here, only the occasional arsonist hoping for a visceral pleasure. Here we neither celebrate nor dread the New Year. Every year is new and every act is a resolution. Here we welcome the heretofore and the hereafter into the now. We say our blessings in two-way mirrors. We skip the ritual of burning our peace offerings because here a fortress and a place of worship coexist as one. Here harmony is the name of a wine-producing region where we can taste the soil. Here the body is a moving wheel, a perfect human scale. Here to shield the sun we retrofit our hands above our eyes like roofs that will never collapse. Here it is easy to ignore the ambulances while having a conversation on a street corner. It is easy to exile pain to a distant harbor. It is easy to rest because there is a hammock for every limb you want to swing. There are fruits so ripe that the parrots do not puncture the rinds with their beaks because they think the fruits are distant cousins and are happy to see them.