Every once in a while an amazing book comes along… All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr fits the bill. If a book can have beautiful cinematography with only words, then this one does. The words, the imagery, the humanity of our being have left me raw with emotion. As my grandfather was a WWII vet, the story and feelings are especially poignant for me. As part of processing all the emotion this book has awakened in me, I’ve pieced together a poem from of some of my favorite phrasings from the book:
Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever
all of light is invisible
how does the brain which lives without a spark of light
build for us a world full of light?
all have seen things they wish to forget
always there is a sense of a tide behind them, rising, gathering mass,
carrying with it a slow and vindictive rage
every day, on his right and left, another soul escapes towards the sky
there is something to be angry at, he is sure, but he cannot say what it is
he feels only the raw, impassive surge of the moonlight as it strikes the tent above him and scatters
body seems to have gone weightless under his blanket,
beyond the flapping tent doors
trees dance and the clouds keep their huge billowing march.
the moonlight shines and billows: the broken clouds scud above the trees
leaves fly everywhere
but the moonlight stays unmoved by the wind, passing through clouds, through air, in what seems like impossibly slow, imperturbable rays
they hang across the buckling grass
why doesn’t the wind move the light?
the cords of his soul not yet severed
Claire de Lune, the light of the moon
he is everyone who has left her finally coming back
what I want to write about today is the sea.
it seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel
What you could be
it was not easy to be good then
we all grew up before we were grown up
in many ways, her memories of her brother have become things to lock away
some griefs can never be put right
feel all over again the seering pain of his absence
memories cartwheel out of her head and tumble across the floor
this woman has dropped a molten kernel of memory into her hands
how to see her is to believe once more that goodness, more than anything else, is what lasts.
you must never stop believing
sound of bees
somewhere, someone is figuring out how to push back the hood of grief, but she cannot, not yet
to feel the sentences hoist her up and carry her somewhere else
stillness, that is what he radiates more than anything else
he sees what other people don’t
what the war did to dreamers
you did this to me
to not have the war be the center from which the rest of your life spiraled
memories strobe past
she sees herself walking out of the smoking city
smoke is a suspension of particles, billions of drifting carbon molecules
bits of living rooms, cafes, trees, people
only the strongest people can turn away from feelings like that.