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.

Second Candle: Advent is Slowing

One candle grows short, a second descends,
And three others wait for the rising of light.
Wicks burn down and dwindle, yet hope still appends
The longing of prayers in the slow Advent night.
In the day, though the shouting of sun may shut out
The lamenting of captives, yet watch in the night,
For Advent is slowing: our rushing, our doubt,
Our “everything-must-be-done-by-this-time”.
Yes, Advent is dwindling – right down to the quick –
And Advent is hoping, and looking, though sight
Is obscured, and deferred hope makes the heart sick.
Advent is finding new candles to light:
When the length of the waiting diminishes cheer,
The light still will flicker, to shut out all fear.

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First Candle: Advent is Waiting

Nocturne

Dance the night amidst the mist and

hover cloud above the earth;

sing the streets in silent vigil,

sleep the world aright.

 

Water soil, the dew of nighttime,

watch the sleeping grasses grow;

let the nocturne song surround you

as you come and go.

 

Rain falls on the just and unjust;

nighttime falls on both.

Woken by the same song’s sunshine,

lift us both to grace.

Last Light: For the Winter Solstice

On the shortest day, I walked down to
            the garden where, stretched out across
                        the grass, the out-turned
                                    fingers of
                        peace received
                                    the night soon here.
 
Vestigial glow bedecked the trees
            and roof-tops sank, the light soon gone.
                        In the evening cool the
                                    streets were
                        softly swept
                                    by homeward feet.
 
But I had left my home to see the light;
            I traced its steps from pallid green
                        treetops to underpass
                                    and marvelled at
                        its retreat
                                    and dusk’s perfect lull.
 
Pink clouds settled to evening grey, yet
            the story was not sad: the day
                        was gift, was treasure.
                                    And how glorious!
                        how perfectly bright the light
                                    set against the dark.

Number Nine

Darkness

 

Carlton kept in darkness slept,
            The streetlights out, the roadside swept
With rain that afternoon and feet
            Bewildered by the night.
 
The city never sleeps, they say,
            And anxious souls in search of day
Pit-pattered while inside the homes
            Smart-phones took place of light.
 
Commerce halted, leisure paused,
            Proprietors despised the cause,
While some found hope across the street
            Where power caught their sight.
 
Not quite as thick as Egypt’s, though
            A danker hue than cities know,
The darkness over Lygon Street
            Unsettled with its bite.
 
Yet refuge lay where light still shone,
            And in the end, it came back on
Across the street, and Carlton spun
            Back into groove, aright.
 
The sounds of muffled life returned
            And in the sky the streetlights burned,
Declaring never would the day
            Depart, nor win the fight.