by Sally Read
The moon is large and near enough
to hold. It balances
in branches like a circus act
and I think of You,
as I hurry from the church
each afternoon at six,
You, caught in me, imperceptible
and mute as a long shock
of lightning: tidal
as those starlings
in September's dusk,
silent and silencing
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.
You can read Gethsemane, a poem from Sally Read's new collection Dawn of this Hunger (out later this year) here.
Has the pact between God and poets been broken?
At the hermitage, drawing on the example of poet-theologian Gregory of Nazianzus, we are well aware of poetry's central role in the Faith; its function in Liturgy and prayer; and its special place in God's methods of communicating with mankind.
Today poetry is often marginalized. It's seen as too demanding and obscure. In reality, poetry simply asks us to be open to language, the patterns of creation and what is beyond us. The attitude necessary for writing and reading poetry shares a great deal with what is called for in prayer.
The Holy Hierarchs all had a very special way with language. Poet in residence Sally Read, writing in a different time and tradition, is seeking to reconcile Catholics and a broader audience with a lost sense of the poetic. In our relationship with poetry, we hope to deepen our relationship with mankind and God.
Sally Read's new article God and the Poet is published at the Humanum Review, and explores this special bond between Creator
About Sally Read:
Sally converted to Catholicism in 2010 under the guidance of the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs and subsequently became poet "in residence" of the hermitage, which means that she write poems for feasts and hermitage occasions. In reality this has led to the completion of her first collection of poetry as a Catholic, Dawn of this Hunger, which is out with Angelico Press and Second Spring.
Sally is the author of three preceding books of poetry (written before her conversion to Catholicism) and the story of her nine month conversion from atheism to Catholicism, "Night's Bright Darkness" which was published by Ignatius Press in 2016. Sally's book Annunciation: a Call to Faith in a Broken World came out with Ignatius Press in 2019. All of her spiritual writing is fruit of her prayerful association with the hermitage.
Her website is www.sallyread.net
and she lives near Rome with her husband and daughter.
copyright Sally Read 2016: If you wish to use this material please contact The Asketerion for permission