Sally Read is poet in residence of the Hermitage. More information can be found about her at the Contact page.
Don’t think the night’s all deadness—there are wells
of light and dark, and many kinds of silence. Tonight
the snow breathes light and three large hares, white
on white, are munching left-out carrots, lolloping trails
of nothing in a silky, new-ink silence. It’s the silence
of how your hair would sound when it rises on your scalp.
It wakes the hermit; that and the beating heart of Christ
that pushes through the night like a boat through
brackish waters. There is no chapel-bell, no tramping march
of monks. Just one mind in the wooden room, apiece
with the fresh-ink hush. Thoughts are indivisible
from prayer; speech inseparable from silence and his heart
which echoes endlessly with what God spoke. He rises.
The snow-light seethes around him, like insomnia or love.
In the still, blue snow the hare’s eye is steady as God’s,
and dark. His veined ear is tuned
to the anticipation of sound,
and the hermitage’s silence;
its one light burning. Stripped trees;
the cold smell of nothing—and then! from nowhere,
two more hares complete the steady gaze
of a Trinity. Their fur is white now,
changed, as though this freeze brought on grief
and they yielded to its will with agility.
Their ears are not shells shaped for noise,
but bodies offered up to the moment:
sensitive, secret, stung.
We pray our souls are so Christ-like:
nakedly attending; and that we may absorb,
as these hares do the morning,
the great breath of the Word.
copyright Sally Read 2016: If you wish to use this material please contact The Asketerion for permission