California Beauties

California is full of pretty faces:
On the street, in the supermarket,
How they
Flit past like chilly moons
Or faint
Closed worlds unto themselves,
Strange and untouchable.

I live in the shadows
Cast by their radiance as it meets
The stony turrets,
The black towers around my soul.
(My keep is the center of night.)
Sometimes it hurts to see them.
Sometimes I hear mocking laughter,
And I hate them for throwing more shadows
Into my darkness.

But no sooner do I begin
To curse my loveless existence,
When I hear a scream ring out from the marshes,
That of a man
Betrayed by one of these
And I think to myself
That truly
There is more good to be had
In the heart of darkness
Than in the glitter of their false light.

George Chadderdon © 1996