Advent: The First Candle

In November, our lips trembled
with the breath of winter etched
in frost across the windows.
We gazed at dawn’s arrival
casting bands of icy glitter
on brass and copper oak leaves
holding tight to frozen branches,
as if they could stop the turn
of seasons, suspend the spin
of Earth around the sun, but
nothing can slow this orbit
toward the solstice. Oh, Christ,

the prophets spoke about a day
when darkness would pass away.
Shadows broaden, days shorten.
We’ve waited the way I watched
my garden for the reddening
of tomatoes, the fleshing out
of vegetables, how I’ve held
my swollen abdomen, the fullness
of time a season, a month a week
a day an hour away. Now,

we unravel pine swag garland
and drape it on the mantle, melt
a candle, send a signal in a flaming
flicker, hope hot enough to kill
the darkness. Here comes the turning
of the solstice, here comes the night,
the star, and then the etching
of a few more minutes to stand
in the slow burn of frost,
the gradual stretching of the light.

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