Elizabeth Scavetta

The Night Side of the Earth

Elizabeth wrote this poem and following commentary the month of her transition — December 2003. Her English teacher, Mr. Michael Reist and her friend Jessica read the poem at her funeral. Mr. Reist found this poem in his inbox after the Christmas break as Elizabeth had handed in this literary assignment for class before the Christmas holiday. It was a lovely surprise when he presented me with this poem. I feel she is wise beyond her years.

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The Night Side of the Earth
A poem

by Elizabeth Scavetta
Age 17

Pale dawn stretches wearily
Piercing the eastern dark
Sighing

The Light: ‘Earth child, turn your cheek
Of hope there’s still a spark.’

The cold dampness of sorrow and sin
Can now be melted off your skin
Look to the light, don’t turn away
Come out of the night where the shadows lay.

A morning sun can cure it all
And lift the weighty gloom
From shoulders weak, whose worn out heart
Drips in death and doom.’

A Soul: ‘The liquid sun can burn the blue,
But struggles to melt the clouds;
They hover still over branch and oak,
Their smudged shadows, lingering smoke.

And undefeated, float throughout
Like ashes; lonesome black
They settle like dust on the heart and soul
Pass through the skin and back.

All that exists is shadow now
Under the houses
Under the trees
Under faces and their words
Under the heavy breeze

Thousands of shadows drift along
In the mind and spirit of all
They were born of a people spurred by spite,
These sightless spirits of the night

They cover the land far and wide
Billowing through the sky
A ruthless smog concealing truth,
And every bitter lie

Distorted, uncertain
Where do we go?
This road caves in at the fork
Where has the world gone that we know?
I can’t see New York.’

Harsh winds
They cut like steel
Rip through the earth
Today

Are we those people
Clinging to dust
Of a moral fiber’s decay?

For we are not alone in this
No, the world cries out with us!
Is it our duty?
Is it our cult?
Is it our worry?
Is it our fault?

The Light: Child, these questions
Thick and deep
Lay above the murky breach

Climb out of your hole
Face up to the fear
But not in nightmared sleep!

A Soul: Dare you!
Suggest it be
A trifling triviality!
Look at this place!
See the woe!
‘Take up your quarrel with the foe!’

The Light: Solutions
They cannot come about
In the rage against what’s real
It’s demanding
Yet you’re standing
With your fists set tough as steel

But the darkness still envelops you
You’re vengeful
Taste your fear!

Accept the light
And you’ll win the fight
Evil won’t come near!

Give over sorrows
Give over your pain
Relinquish your deathly grip

Drink for deliverance
The cup of life
Gives peace – it’s yours to sip!

Face the light
Embrace the hope
Anticipate rebirth

For it just cannot come about
On the night side of the earth.

Commentary for ‘The Night Side of the Earth.’

by Elizabeth Scavetta

I was thinking one day about the earth, and the state of the people that cover every area on it. I was thinking about our lives in North America compared to the quality of life of all the poor nations around the world. I was saddened by the way our world has been changing, and how everyone is being negatively affected. It seems like money is the sole importance in this world, and the suffering many people experience daily is of no significance at all. The poem may seem like a gloomy portrayal of the atrocities of this world, but there is a message of hope within. One can find peace in him/herself, and then with an enlightened perspective and a fresh hope, he/she can be of help to others around the world and strive to make our world a better place – one step at a time.

There are two voices in this poem. There is the Light, which is the hope, the good, the God if you will. The Light speaks to a Soul and tells the Soul to turn to the light and give his/her sorrow and anxiety over to it, reclaiming peace upon him/herself. The Soul is deeply disturbed by the sin and misery that cover the earth. He/she is so bothered by the appalling fates of society that it takes over his/her life and leaves no room for any other thought. The sole focus of the Soul is on the injustice of the world, and he/she while protesting these evils, does not know what to do to stop them.
The Soul represents the people in this world that see our society in the most bare, and realistic way: As a desperate cry for salvation. The poem describes the cruelty of the world in a way that many people may see it. They are intensely agitated with what the world has become and get bogged down with the depressing facts of life.

The Light does not object to these feelings of anguish and regret, but expresses that people cannot help make the earth a better place when they are down this black hole. They must come out of the shadows (the violence, poverty, disease, injustice, capitalism, etc.) of our society and allow hope to reenter their lives. No good can be done when one is encircled in evil thoughts; they must be willing to allow the chance for peace. This is what is meant by being on the ‘night side of the earth.’ There is no growth, no development when one is surrounded in darkness. A flower cannot grow, cannot blossom, without the light, and in a way, neither can we. By embracing the light, or God, people can find an inner peace within themselves, and see a purpose and a hope for them that were not visible before. They can acquire an inner peace, and can subsequently effectively give from that place. This inner peace, I believe, is a miracle of spirituality. When one is grounded in such a powerful source of love, hope, and comfort, it becomes possible to see the light and the good that exists and to help cultivate the good in the earth.

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MOTHER – Award Winning Short-Story by Elizabeth Scavetta

It was one of those winters. Those winters where the defiant wind blew right through you, like it knew all your secrets. The trees shivered in the cold, amused, daring you to fight back. Their bony figures rocked in the wind, taking it while they could, until they’d admit that it was the wind that was the strongest. After a life of peaceful struggle, their weakened forms would kneel before their master, and collapse into the snow, dreaming of the endless slumber that awaited them. Just looking outside, you could feel their icy branches, like arms, wrap around your skin. Protecting you from the storm that was coming.

My mother got up from the window seat. The blue cushion, thick as a memory, inflated with the absence of her weight. She walked into the kitchen and selected a carton of milk from the fridge. She glanced around the room, taking in the sight of unopened mail on the counter, and the smell of buttered toast. Finally, she settled at the kitchen table, in front of yesterday’s newspaper. She sipped her tea and listened to the gusts of wind blowing past the windows and through the porch. She looked so peaceful. Quiet, but entirely content. I smiled at her, and then she looked at me.

“It’s gonna be a cold one today,” she said, looking out the window now. Her velvet voice soothed my spirits. I loved Saturday mornings in December, for reasons like this. We’d sit, warm and comfortable, eating our breakfasts and staring out at the snow. I would look at the trees, cradling families of snowflakes in their arms. I wondered if they envied us, warm in our pajamas and housecoats, on the other side of the glass. I thought they did.

“It’s a good day for staying inside, sitting in front of the fire,” my mother continued. “What do you think? I’d like to read my book, actually, it’s getting really good.” She smiled playfully, and preceded to describe the last passage she’d read, her bright eyes animated with delight. “Here, come on, I’ll read to you.” She jumped up from her chair, excitedly, and pulled me to the couch. I laughed, jumping on the living room sofa, and then snuggled in next to her. I closed my eyes against her warm, fuzzy sweater, and waited for the sound of her voice.

She read to me. In a rich, melodic tone she recounted the story, giving beauty and meaning to every line. And I listened. We laughed together sharing the characters’ joy, and then fretted during the plights. We stayed there, on the couch, feeling every word as if we were in the pages ourselves. I kept listening, my head resting on her shoulder, until my mother had reached the very last page. After reading the last line, her hypnotic voice still dripping with enchantment, she gently closed the book shut.

“I love when there are happy endings,” I sighed, pleased at how the story had finished off.

“So do I,” my mother agreed.

“There can always be a happy ending,” she continued. “But sometimes it’s up to you.”

I nodded dreamily, and gave her a hug. She stroked my hair and kissed the top of my head. Then I curled up on the couch contentedly, and fell asleep.

When I awoke, I didn’t know how much time had gone by. I opened my eyes and stretched. I sat up, slowly, and looked around the room. My mother was no longer beside me. I stood up from the sofa, and noticing it had grown cold, wrapped the blanket around my shoulders. The gray wintry sky had not since given way to sun, and the glowing light from the fire had gone out. The walls, formerly reflecting a golden sheen, now appeared lifeless. A cheerless ashen.

I walked into the kitchen, and called out to my mother. She didn’t answer me. I called again, but heard nothing. I stood there in the kitchen for awhile, wondering where she had gone. A crow called sharply from outside the window, startling me, but there was no other sound.

I walked down the hallway, thinking that she may be in her room, and saw that her door was closed. I quietly opened the door, careful not to disturb her, but realized upon entering that she wasn’t there. I stood in the doorway, staring at her vacant reading chair. The faded green chenille appeared lonely, clinging to the woolen blanket laying overtop. The room was dark, as if it had been so for years. A musty smell of bed linens invaded my nostrils, defeating the familiar scent of sweet perfume. Confused, I glanced at her desk. A layer of dust covered the top, disguising the wooden detail, and yellowed papers rested collectively in the center, immobile.

“What are you doing?” I turned, quickly, to the sound of the voice, the blanket falling from my shoulders. I looked out the doorway. Patrick.

“What are you doing?” he repeated, sounding quieter this time, although apprehensive. I stared at him, not knowing how to respond. I wiped an unnoticed tear that had fallen on my cheek, and turned away from him.

“Thinking about her?” he asked softly. I stood in silence for awhile, not hearing him. The wind blew strong against the window, and the cold, wood floor chilled my feet. I could see the frozen trees outside the window, the snowflakes hugging tightly in the wind.

“She was here again, you know,” I said after awhile, distantly, still standing in the middle of the room. Patrick looked at me, and then at the floor, not knowing what to say. “I keep seeing her,” I continued, gazing out the window. “She was here again. She was right there, it was so real.” I could feel tears well up in my eyes. “I just miss her so much…I don’t know what to do.” I brought my hands to my face, covering my eyes from the truth I didn’t want to see.

“I know you miss her,” Patrick finally replied, gently. He walked up to me and put his arms around shoulders. “But it’s going to be okay,” he said.

I nodded, but my tears didn’t subside. We stood in that room for awhile, just standing there. I was so grateful to him at that moment, but I couldn’t find the words to tell him so. I couldn’t shake the guilt I had for putting him through all this. My illusions of my mother were, undoubtedly, just as hard for him as they were for me. I hoped he understood that I was sorry.

We had not spoken of my mother much since her death, two years ago. I kept trying to push her out of my mind, but the more I tried to forget her, the more I saw her. I didn’t want to talk about her then, but now, I felt it was time to. I wanted to talk about her; I needed to. Patrick and I left her bedroom, and sat together on the living room sofa, in front of the warm glow of the fire. I told him stories about her, and we spoke for a long time, sharing our memories of joy and solace. I missed her so much. I guess that feeling never really goes away. Yet, I still believed in a happy ending.

After that, I saw her less and less. My vivid imaginings of her went from a weekly occurrence, to a few times a month, to nonexistent. But I never stopped loving her, or thinking about her. I never totally let go of her. Someone who had taught me, inspired me, and loved me like she did would be in my heart forever. She was my heroin. Yet, I finally learned the acceptance I needed to go on. I learned it from her. She told me there could always be a happy ending. It was simply up to me.

Now when I look outside at the bright winter sky, the snow covered ground, and the trees cradling snowflakes in their arms, I think of her. I think of how she cradled me, at the kitchen table, on a December morning, in the warm glow of our home. I can think of how I’ve recovered the peace I had known in those days. Those days I spent with my mother.

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