“Translation” by Jeffrey Morgan

Jeffrey Morgan


During sleep paralysis, the mind wakes up inside the frozen body,
as if to ask again the question from an unusual perspective:
Why is there something and not nothing?
I find it comforting to focus on something I love,
which I have no power to change.
I think about Caravaggio’s The Calling of Saint Matthew.
The burst of light in that painting enters through the window
as epiphany, but even more specifically
the darkness is lavish and pools like heavy velvet
around the announcement. Inside of what we cannot see, we are free
to imagine ourselves. I have stood before this painting
in the Contarelli Chapel in Rome
as the coin-operated spotlight wound down,
just before the chapel closed for the night: light inside light inside light.
There’s also this thing called Stendhal syndrome,
in which people become physically ill in the presence
of great works of art. Maybe the body is not always ready
to recognize the authority of the mind,
or perhaps the mind, even with the body at its disposal,
is always and only waiting for what may or may not be a sign.

from Rattle #44, Summer 2014

[download audio]


Jeffrey Morgan: “I write poetry hoping to achieve a meditative state, and also hoping that something I write will astonish someone.” (website)

Rattle Logo