Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Poem For Christmas Eve

We're always supposed to read a poem or something at our December book group and I can never find anything I can read without crying -- nothing, not even the stupid stuff.  So I always end up writing something to read.  Which should help but this year's poem was unreadable in the crying department. 

I seem to only write poems at Christmas time and it takes severe chutzpah to share them because poetry is not necessarily my thing. (This is an ecumenical sentence.  I like it a lot.) But this poem is for sharing with my friends.  (And Mark Zuckerberg, of course, because he always reads my posts.  I see you, Mark. You think I don't but I do.)  It is my Christmas wish for all of us everywhere. Sometimes wishing is about the best you can do.

Merry Christmas, O Blogosphere!  May you find peace and joy.


The Christmas Door

Ah!  Here is the door to Christmas,
the Christmas we loved, the one we remember
even if it happened to someone else
in a book, a movie, or on TV.
Somebody else’s sacred dream.

But anyway.
Here we all are at the door.
All of us.

See?  It is wondrously carved and polished.
Run your fingers over the holly wreath.
Trace the leaves and berries,
the labor of years.
Touch the handle. Is it gold?
It must be.

Behind this door is the one warm and welcoming room
where all is calm and bright.
The fragrance of pine, cinnamon, and bay.
Fire on the hearth.
Carolers outside the windows.
(Mullioned windows, I’m pretty sure.)
Presents under the tree.
Of course there is snow.

The baby is in the manger.
His promise still perfect.
It’s all in there.

Every year we all stand outside this door of our own making.
All. All of us.
Trying to figure out how to get ourselves back in.

Now, here is a secret:

Every ridiculous exhortation of advertising,
every frenzied trip to the mall in the snow,
every single cookie, even if it’s from a package, icing hard as nails.
All of it.  All that we deride and regret.
All that we strive for and fall short of.
All that makes us tired and cross;
disappointed, aggravated and bereft.
All. All.  All of it.
Is outward sign of an inward truth:

We would all run ourselves ragged and spend ourselves poor
to gather ourselves and our loved ones again
inside this lighted room of our own dreaming.
To have it sing to us again.
All.  All.  All of us. Every one.

And here is the gift, the true and lasting gift, at last:
We are bound by this sacred dream to one another.
By this mutual longing for light and love
and singing in the night, we
are made one.

It binds us, lifts us, heals us.
It is our common soul, this truth in the heart.
This longing. This Christmas dream.
Whatever this is, we are all in here together.
All.  All.  All of us. 

God bless us every one.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Poem for the Solstice

This is it. This is the night. The dark tide draws back. Not much. Not far. But enough. We have been marking this moment since we were almost without words. We used our brute strength to build mighty monuments to it. Stone circles raised in hope and in reverence for the mysteries of the universe and of our lives. When food was hard to come by. When warmth was elusive. We gathered together to celebrate this turning point. From here until June, the light cascades back.  The dark will fail. The light will come. Tomorrow will be brighter, even if we are too busy to notice.

I have often wondered what it was like for those early almost-humans, and a couple of years ago, I wrote this for them. 

December, 50,000 BCE
A Poem For The Solstice

What is this?
The world has grown dark. 
Sunrise is later every morning. 
Sunset comes too soon. 
It creeps ever back into the day.
Soon it will surely crowd the morning. 
What will we do when the darkness is forever?

We listen to the sound the wind makes in the night. 
And the night is so long.
We don’t remember the warm time. 
Or if we remember, we say, “Perhaps it wasn’t real.”

The fire is all we have.
When we must go out, we take it with us.
It gives us shadows, then, but no respite from our fears.
We sleep as much as we are able. 
We eat whatever we can find.
Our dread of darkness mingles with the sadness of everything we don’t understand.
Where we came from.  Where we go.
We weep here and don’t know why.

We are attuned, stretched taut, to any change that might appear to be for the better.
So, when today gives us more light than yesterday, we rejoice.   
Light of the World.  We cry out to thee.
Our joy is spare, like a bone gnawed in hunger. 
But it is clean and bright.
It is warm.  Like something newborn.
Light of the world. 
Object of our deepest longings.
We wait in darkness. 
And our waiting is a prayer.
Light of the world.  
We pray for mercy.  For pity.  For redemption.  For any explanation.

In these days of inconsequentially less darkness,
And virtually no additional light,
We celebrate the coming of this sun.