The Narcissist & the Light Stasher

The Narcissist & the Light Stasher
They did not like 
sunlight on your skin, 

ordered you sit in the shade, 
said: you are repellent 

vile, they kept you pale, 
insistent endless bullshit 

made you wonder
if it was in fact true

the fault was yours? 
Clever like that, they are. 

Still, the moon
shines for you regardless

all the brighter in fact
child, you stash 

light in your cells 
wherever you find it 

eyes like a magpie
trained to catch a glitter 

on water, 
reflections bright

on buildings 
the long ocean glade

or shushing fields of gold, 
so when the dark 

falls (and it does)
after all this time

it’s die
or glow. 
Jenni Fagan

From The Dead Queen of Bohemia (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2016), reproduced by permission of the author.

Jenni Fagan

Jenni Fagan is a Scottish novelist, poet, screenwriter, essayist and playwright.

Read more about this poet
About The Narcissist & the Light Stasher

This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2016. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2016 was Catherine Lockerbie.

Editor's comment:

What a talent is Jenni Fagan – unflinching novelist and poet of dark places, with a gift for titles sometimes as long or as loaded as the poem itself. So it is here. Who is this 'light-stasher' who somehow gathers light into her very cells and why? There is something of the Gothic and vampiric about several of Fagan’s poems and this one, intensely enigmatic, troubling and oddly hopeful, sent shivers down this reader’s spine.

Author's note:

I rarely talk about what my own poems are about but for me poetry is the only written form where I am completely truthful.

I have been writing poetry for as long as I can remember and it is the oldest form of expression for me.

When I need to make sense of something it is often poetry that helps me to do so. When none of the other literary forms are enough — poetry is the one I reach for.

'The Narcissist & the Light Stasher' is a simple truth best told in this form. It is concerned with how ordinary people cope with extreme circumstances and how we all have choices to make in how we respond to the people in our lives.