after photographs in a series by American photographer Todd Hido (1997)
I remember the darkness when my parents were driving
late at night, going home from some visit or other,
me in the back seat, my face pressed against the window,
my own eyes reflected in and out of view, then seeing
a distant house ahead, one lamp on inside, one square
of light materialize like a portal into someone else’s world,
or life, or hour, luring me away from myself for the time being;
sometimes in the rain, the blurry uncertainty, having to strain
to keep seeing, then letting the image go as we drove by,
as if my childish imagination made it disappear, fluid in time,
the house gone because I was gone; or after seeing
grandparents in December, how through the car window,
time stopped; landscape stripped of all but holiday lights
trailing the eaves of apartments, a warehouse, trailer, or barn,
then a solitary farmhouse in the middle of a field where, inside,
a light had been left on for someone, snow and ice casting
strange effects like a frosted camera lens, the backdrop a tree
or two clawing the sky, the only clear thing that one light.
How it was that my 12-year-old self, face pressed hard
against a car window, wondered beyond what I knew.
Even now on a cold night, when I pace around in the dark
waiting for the dog to do his business, minding my own,
my breath hanging in the air like fog, I may find myself
at the end of a drive, or just down an alley, or behind a fence
around a covered pool, or across a garden, and see, barely,
a shape beckoning me through a bright window, saying look,
pulling me to a suggestion. Funny how the eye is drawn to light.
To the idea of being seen. To the thought of someone there.
— from Juniper Volume 5, Issue 2