I am close with my bicycle. After years of intimacy only the frame, front wheel, and forks are original 1. The front light has blown repeatedly. This is complicated if the cable is broken somewhere, but changing the bulb is easy: presto! Fixed! Light!
This time I replaced the entire unit with a halogen light. Now it is brighter and more reliable. On my first trips through the black polythene tunnel of wet December streets, I perch regularly and lovingly to see that it still shines, announcing me, protecting me.
And this is also my first enlightenment after a week of dense darkness. Winter arrived, restrictive and cold. The darkness had been pressing into me all week. Does this happen every year? Where did all this darkness come from? What am I supposed to do with it?
Here is, if not a solution, at least a strategy at last: keep the front bicycle light shining. Let the rest of the darkness do what it will.
I grasp this sliver of hope. It takes a while for the full significance of the metaphor to arrive; winter, Christmas, lights, the fragile Divine Child.
And while my intellectualism is nauseated by the saccharine cheesiness of this insight, and its hopeless lack of originality, the alternative is equally nauseating, though black.
Here is an alternative image. The figure is 5,000 years old. I don’t know what it is supposed to symbolise. What I see is the small bird in the claws of the large demon. I see the demon as the black night, and the bird as the small light. And I see them all in me.
- According to Flann O’Brien’s Atomic Theory, I may have ingested much of the original through intimate frottage. “When a man lets things go so far that he is half or more than half a bicycle… he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at curbstones”. The Third Policeman.