“The First Sunday of Advent”
The weight of steel against the heaving rails,
Strict rust parallels
Between the platforms, where commuters stand
In topcoats, mufflers, or in woolen hats:
Numb fingers thumbing the loose ends
Of gloves, expectant of the call
To draw them from their winter suburbs off
To the iced towers of the working daylight.
We have some hope once other hopes have failed,
Raised trees that have been felled,
The blank cashier who answers our command
For coffee and a scone. We feel the fat
Of idle hours, the long feline
Stretch of life’s sabbatical.
Our eyes are set toward Center City; aloft,
The southerly birds head toward an age of daylight.
But when? the glorious letter in the mail
With words of rustling bells?
When? the permanent heat in the cold land?
Our limbs are aching and our feet are flat,
Our thoughts encumbered by the gravitas
Of each body’s weight. Our fall
Was hard and like no other. Will the soft
Wing of some other life lift us toward daylight?
“The Second Sunday of Advent”
In the warm circle of lamplight, my daughter
Reaches up toward the pocket stitched with “8”
For silver wrapped chocolate stowed there. As I’ve taught her,
She may eat one each night, and each night waits
For my return from work with hungry eyes.
Her joy is regulated thus: a prayer,
A story, and a candy. Then, she cries
To get but one when there are others there.
St. Augustine, knowing the greed of babes for
Their mothers’ breasts was violent and abyssal,
Confessed that infant innocence was made more
Of helpless limbs than grace, less rose than thistle.
My daughter takes the unwrapped sweet and chews
With a slow-smackled ritual I admire.
The past had little purity to lose;
And we have only discipline and desire.