Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
 
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Commentary: Autumn evening blues

The length of days doesn't change uniformly throughout the year; rather, it follows a sinusoidal curve (like an S on its side) with steep periods where the day lengthens or shortens by a larger amount each day, and shallower periods where its duration changes only a little. October is one of those months of steep change, when the daylight hours grow shorter by as much as five minutes each day at my latitude.

A shot tower is typically a tall, straight, chimney-like structure, traditionally used in the making of lead shot (the small balls of lead used in shotguns). Droplets of molten lead would be released at the top of the shot tower, and, due to the funkiness of physics, would take on a near-spherical shape as they fell freely to the bottom, where a cooling bath of water typically awaited them to ensure their solidification. The "shot-tower fall of October" captures for me the steepness of October's change in day-length, which is definitely a downhill plummet from my point of view.

This poem was inspired by a collection of photographs I saw on the internet, taken by a high-resolution infrared camera, with warmer regions showing brighter than cooler regions. There was one particularly striking picture of a face with intensely-glowing eyes. Hillwalkers are often warned of the dangers of "losing heat through the head" and the need to carry warm hats, but I was surprised by quite how much heat we evidently shed through our eyeballs!

"Common darkness" means for me both "ordinary" darkness - the normal visual spectrum in which we see, and in which conventional photographs are taken - and the shared darkness of bedtime. The tigers are a reference to William Blake's very well-known poem "The Tiger", which begins:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright   
In the forests of the night,   
What immortal hand or eye  
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?  
 
In what distant deeps or skies    
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?  
On what wings dare he aspire?  
What the hand dare seize the fire?

The tiger hidden in the night, the eyes vivid in invisible wavelengths in the dark, are, for me, the emotion we cover up with habit or convention, the intensity lurking beneath the quotidian.

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