Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Michael T. Young: Bioluminescence

Old philosophers would call this look melancholia,
but I see in this photo of my wife thinking
weathers of competing beauty,
someone who can be in two places at once:
there on the couch, leaning into the cushion folds
and somewhere else focused on the unseen,
beyond the clock’s exhausting rap,
working an idea like dough into the necessary bread.

All moments of clarity narrow like this,
the periphery dimmed as in a Rembrandt,
his “Philosopher in Meditation” sitting in a shaft of light
as if at the bottom of a well, because the profound
leads into dark places, like the ocean floor where
the only light comes from the bodies of fish
swimming through its miles of perpetual night.


Copyright 2018 Michael T. Young. First published in Askew and included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

Michael T. Young’s latest book is The Infinite Doctrine of Water published by Terrapin Books.


Philosopher in Meditation (1632) is the traditional title of an oil painting in the Musée du Louvre that has long been attributed to Rembrandt. 

4 comments on “Michael T. Young: Bioluminescence

  1. redearth66
    June 1, 2018

    Beautiful! I was reminded of Burton and the Anatomy of Melancholy — something like he who increases wisdom, increases sorrow. Pardon the mangling; I read the Anatomy at least 20 years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    • miketyoung
      June 1, 2018

      Thank you for the kind comment. Glad this recalls such a significant work. The Anatomy is an amazing book. Your memory is pretty good. Burton is quoting Ecclesiastes 1:18 but in his own translation. The King James translation of the quote is “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” But either translation carries the same insight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Monica Wicks
    June 1, 2018

    deep and beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

    • miketyoung
      June 1, 2018

      Thank you, Monica, for such kind words. So glad you like it.

      Liked by 2 people

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