Helen Ruggieri

From my balcony, the lights on the Bay Bridge connecting Yokohama to Tokyo glitter above the invisible Pacific. Cars pass leaving red tracers in their wake. Streetlights leave puddles of light on the narrow streets. Bright red and blue neon kanji tout products. Smokestacks flare off gas, the lighthouse blinks a warning. Headlights rise and fall. Darkness isn’t devious or dangerous, it just makes us change our focus – what we see or how we see.
Celine said everything interesting that happens, happens in the shadows. We are deprived of sight, our primary sense, we concentrate. We try to penetrate the shadows. That place in our brain that demands we make order out of chaos forces us into the night.
A Mercedes stops. A man wearing white gloves gets out and opens the door. Another man in a dark suit gets out and walks down the lane, disappearing near the gate. Only the white front of his shirt, cuts a vee in the night. Inside the dark car are white lace seat covers, the small red circle of a cigarette as the driver waits. The red circle grows and brightens as he inhales.
Lightning bugs court, blink, blink. We call them fire flies or glow worms. (Photuris pennsylvanica), actually they are beetles producing light to signal mates of their availablity. In the dark they enchant us. Japanese children call them star pieces, a piece of metaphoric naming. Japanese children, too, catch them, put them in a jar - a lantern of captured stars. But in the morning they have lost their luster and are only what they ever were.
In Japan evenings are less ominous. There are fewer crimes of violence. Brawls, rapes, murders, are almost non-existent Nights are cessation of work. Night is a cessation of heat. The dark doorways and alleys seem less threatening. Drapes are drawn over the windows. Musical threads rise and fall, TV voices murmur, laugh. The person in the pale lavender house with the wrought iron gates is practicing the shamisen, a lament you recognize, even in another language.
The man returns to the Mercedes. The driver jumps out to open the door. It clicks shut rather than slams. They drive away down the narrow hill. The heavy smell of blooming roses rises on the breeze generated by their passing.

In dark interiors
of black Mercedes
fallen stars glitter