Ruth Barker

Exercise for Closed Eyes




In the room it is very dark.


In the darkness, I close my eyes.


Behind my lids I see:




Eight hundred lights in one hundred and seventy seven years;


One thousand lamps in a decade;


Thirteen candles in fourteen minutes;


A hundred billion points of radiance in an hour;


Four searchlights in thirty seconds;


Two thousand one hundred and forty torches in twelve hundred days;


Half a trillion beacons in a century;


Nineteen columns of phosphorescence in an age;


Ten gaslights in ninety minutes;


Three score lanterns in a millennium;


Five dozen flares in an aeon;


Eleven flames in an orbit;


Two million sunbeams in a lifetime.




I smell the sulphur.


I taste the embers.


I hear the carbon.


I feel the warmth against my face.


I open my eyes.


The room is still dark.