23 December 2010

Advent IV

You had a window on the bay, darling, and took walks even in the wind. You had poems tacked on your wall and your left elbow pointed to Jamestown. And I, up-shore and inland, spent the days driving from hazard to hazard with my camera strap looped around my wrist and a notepad in my pocket, my fingers poking through green unraveled gloves, listening to classical radio.

You took the 14 home; I drove in from the west. We lit candles in mason jars and mulled cider in silver pots. We ate our late dinner (squash and winter greens and pan-fried fish) listening for feet on the stairs.

Just before bed, our friends arrived, in coats and scarves, in thrift-store boots and hand-made hats, carrying wine and fruit. And we gave them slips of paper, with scripture verses written in pencil, and we sat in the dark and took turns reading out loud.

(Reading God With Us at Mawney Street, 2009)

19 December 2010

Advent III

Some days I felt an urgent responsibility to each change of light outside the sunporch windows. Who would remember any of it, any of this our time, and the wind thrashing the buckeye limbs outside? Somebody had to do it, somebody had to hang on to the days with teeth and fists, or the whole show had been in vain. That it was impossible never entered my reckoning.

-Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

12 December 2010

Advent II

We left the drawing room and drove to the coast at dusk. No one else came, just us two, leaving the yellow reading light, my sister’s blankets, my brothers’ company. Straight down her street, across another, into dusk, we drove silently.

Lights shone on the water at the park. Black-webbed volleyball nets hung against the sky. Red-lit smokestacks blinked, reflected and smeared like oil paint. We parked our car in the fire lane and walked across the lawn to stand above the sea.

We stood in the enormous silence of minor movements. The withdrawing tide secretly slipped over rounded stones that did not move. The sky fogged and spread down into the sea; the sea softened and crept up into the sky. Two ragged black rocks divided the expanse into top and bottom, but the horizon lay somewhere far beyond them, erased. The lighthouse spun snatches of gold out into the abyss.

I shivered and you wrapped your coat around my shoulders. Oh sweet sanity: salt and wind, bird cries and sailboats, damp air to settle all the dust in our minds. Minutes passed. We did not move.

When we walked back from the sea wall three people stood smoking by the car parked in front of ours. The men wore suits, the woman grey tights and black boots up to her knees. Our headlights lit her up. “—have you ever been down here?” I overheard one man ask the other two. I didn’t hear the response; my door was shut; we were driving away. The coast receded behind us and the crescent moon mounted, pivoting on a single star.