‘The lights of home are somewhere behind me..’

‘But what I remember is standing on the back seat of a Galaxie 500, looking out the rear window as my mother drives along unlit country roads. I stare, with a deep thrill I can’t name, at the black sky above and then at the rushing road below, so briefly illuminated by the car’s taillights before it disappears into endless shadow.

I remember breathing in the cold of a moonless winter night as I stand, alone, on a hillside near our house. The lights of home are somewhere behind me, but in front of me there’s nothing but a darkness so profound I can’t be sure where the sky meets the earth.

…..All these memories are from my rural childhood fifty years ago, when darkness was much more abundant, when it took over the world each night and artificial lights were so scarce they barely registered in the black expanse.

We’ve mostly lost the darkness now. Even deep in the country, half the houses are adorned with glaring twenty-four-hour lights that push into the surrounding woods and invade the sky

…..When I bought my house in this small town outside Nashville more than twenty years ago, there was not a street-light visible in any direction, and everyone along the road turned off the outdoor lights at bedtime. On a moonless night, the darkness was broken only by the headlights of passing cars. I used to step outside my door on summer nights just to stare at the Milky Way. I wish I had done it more.’

From ‘In Search of Darkness’ by Maria Browning, featured in The Analog Sea Review, number three.

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