© 2014 Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs  Wix.com



Sally Read is poet in residence of the Hermitage. More information can be found about her at the Contact page.

Night Prayer


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.

The Quickening

Mary’s pregnancy at 16 weeks


If prayer is a bare tree,


yet reaching up with jagged

branches to the boundless

pasture of sky,


think of her that day

his bare weight

reached the tipping point


and she could feel him beat

against the thickening

of her flesh,

fleeting as a silver-fish;



as a firefly in the dusk.

It’s a feeling as scarce

as your eyelash against

your cheek, the lightest spasm

of the eyelid


and she may have wondered

if it was so;

but there it was again.


That day, Christ in utero

found the softest

boundaries of the world,

and she knew, 

in the newest sense,

the gravity-bound God


that swam; the first touch

of the divine to us.

That flickering in her womb,

was like buds on the stark branches

of our prayer;

in what seemed unending

silence: God’s lips.




Three Hares


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.

On the Inauguration of the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs 8th October 2010

No one can see the iodine split
from broken waves,
and sucked into the straits

of your lungs. Indeed, high
on your hillside, the sea
has the sheer fabric

of another earth,
and air’s so still you almost know
its interstices—

like honeycomb,
or the wordless edges
around thought.
Listen: a dropped pin would sing,
and does.
A mouse twitters through the garden.

But they are only here to aver
stillness, as God
avers Himself in vacancy.

Listen: the air’s agape with prayer
and song, the tasks
of knowing—

when nothing is left to be taken
or plundered
but the pure pipes of air

yielding notes;
but the narrow veins of air
birthing, in time,

your homeland,
the inexpressible bodies
of your angels.

copyright Sally Read 2016: If you wish to use this material please contact The Asketerion for permission