My grandparents’ had this painting hanging in their living room. Thinking about it today, I began to write.
The Light Switch Mounted on the Hallway Wall
It turns nothing off or on,
reaching into the hallway space
between my bathroom and study
like a black-duck-bill, as silent
as it is purposeless. Each day,
I flip it up and down thinking
somewhere in the world
an old lamp strangely begins to blink.
Perhaps in Ireland, in a small home
covered with moss, resting among
a sea of green hills, a wrinkled man
sinks into an arm chair, a cup
of steaming tea still
on the table beside him
as he reads his weathered Bible, a story
about a boy with five barley loaves
and two fish or an unfortunate soul
tossed into a lions’ den, but the lamp
on the small table next to him,
a short chubby woman painted purple, paisley,
beneath a dusty hat, keeps blinking
dipping the man into darkness then light.
His eyes strain. His head begins to ache.
He damns the lamp and huffs into the kitchen
to wash the breakfast plates still stained
with yellow streaks of yolk. Each night,
I resolve to write him an apology,
but I’ve yet to imagine his name.