December. Cold. Dark. Gray days and long nights. We put up lights to hold back the darkness and encourage the sun to return, just as ancient peoples lit their solstice fires to welcome returning light into the world. Hoping for the return of light after this time of darkness, we’ve entered Advent, a time of waiting. A time of expectation, of longing, of anticipation. In these days of frantic activity – the Holidays – may we all find time for quiet reflection.
Four Poems for Advent
I. Empty Landscape, Without Red Pickups
In the first faint light before dawn,
Stars beginning to dim overhead,
Before the red pickups begin
Their daily migration through the village,
I walk out along the highway.
The lake stretches to the west,
An amorphous paler space beyond
The dark masses of trees.
In the eastern sky,
Jupiter and Venus dance in conjunction —
Dance, and do not touch.
From far down the lake,
The first geese of the winter call.
My soul is as hazy and empty
As that vast stretch of still water before dawn.
The sun lives now
Only in the red stain on the horizon
And the thin paring of early moon overhead.
Bare oaks stand in flat patterns against the sky,
Reaching from cardboard rooftops into deepening blue.
The obscured and reflected sun
Transforms the dusk to calm images
Of death and decay.
Caught in the transient moment,
Moving with the trees into the gathering dark,
I stand at the window and recite poems to the night.
What happens next?
I pray, and cannot predict your response.
In the dark of the moon,
The stars overhead are inscrutable hieroglyphs,
Messages of hope or despair
For some other being in some other galaxy.
You are less known to me,
More mysterious than those distant flames.
I take refuge in my fictions
IV. Creek at Sunrise
Where the creek runs into the lake,
The water is nearly still in the early morning light,
Crinkled like silk where the creek’s slight current meets
The ripples of a small western breeze.
On this shimmering surface,
The reflection of pink clouds overhead in the western sky,
Reflecting the sunrise still below the eastern hills,
Glimmers and dances, a promise of a promise.
Is this where God resides,
In this neither world where wind and current meet,
Shimmering together in the early light?
What else is poetry but a reflection
On reflections of reflections?
What else is love?