Advent 23: In Darkness

he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
(Psalm 143:3 KJV)

One Christmas,
my brother and I sleeping on
fold-out beds in our grandparents’ living room,
I found myself awake
well past the usual hour, and
my thoughts like the room plunged
in obsessive black, save
for a red electric glow from some
unidentified source, I knew no
comfort to tether me
to the physical facts of things – that here
I was, and there my brother was, and
upstairs my grandparents slept and
somewhere out there was the lapping of the sea,
only knew
the daggers my nighttime mind turned inwards
and the sheer obsidian
absence of light,
and though morning and my brother’s voice
restored me to earth, the night
with its limitless black save
that relentless red glow
have clung to me since
as the knowledge of Hell.
I must have a light
that can dispel such a dark.


These tragedies that war upon the screen,
These day-to-day reminders that all’s sick:
They cut into our vision as we dream
And lie within stale hearts. The silent prick
Of death we can repress, but not the waves
That fight like foes upon our passive shores,
Waging war where war was not. The graves
That time forgot and life always ignores
Call out for us to hear them; yet our towns
Lie sleepy in the certainty that fate
Always befalls another (volume down,
Lest we remember; best that we forget).
Were men to blame when Siloam’s tower fell?
In this: our hearts have helped to fashion Hell.