I’ve been making lanterns this Christmas.
They’re simple.

A spiraling wreath rib
Encloses a tea light
My prayer is
that it not go out
that I remember everything
I know and love
as I move through the dark
so that it will never be
entirely dark
in or around me

In a fairy tale, a nun
helps a Queen with her worldly needs
and then she returns to her
convent underground
in the hollow of a mountain.
The nuns are known
as the spinning nuns
they sleep on beds
carved into the solid rock
and tend a central flame.

It is the job of the spinning nuns
to keep the light from going out
for if it does,
everyone dies.

I wonder how they keep
the lamp lit

Surely there must be an eye on the light
all the time, day and night,

Coming and going.

Working and sleeping.

Laughing and crying.

The light burns for everyone

And from it
our holy mother earth
spins threads of gold
that keep her spinning
on her axis and
wheeling round the sun
as it wheels through the galaxy
with its planets glimmering
in the sun’s light
like the crystals on the ribs
of my lantern,

Like your face that lights up
when I am near
and darkens when the wind
slips through rock cracks
and whips past
watchers who are almost but not quite

Last night was a terror
I could not see in the fog
that overtook my rib cage
my rock cell

The flame seemed almost to go out
and your face, your speech, darkened
I went to bed, curled up into myself
in a hard place

And stared into the fog
Stared and stared
until I saw a light
and remembered the lanterns
hanging on a clothesline
in the basement
for this purpose only,
for this fog

 In the peace that settles
in my heart
In the remembrance
that light is all
that all things are
and I live to spin it

light returns to me.


© Michelle Tocher, 2013

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