Poetry  

New poem by Sally Read

 

The Gift

 

Why this gift? Every night I wake

and gulp

the sweaty dark in one

like the purest vodka shot

 

and my heart pumps its painful stars.

 

In the sweaty dark

I’m biting on the bone of

what life boils to--

 

as though I’m hanging

in a hammock,

a hollow torrent  

whispering under me, and above,

 

like a magician’s hands

around a doomed woman—

 

no, not even ‘woman’: faceless,

no age or sense

to plant me like

the waking grasses or the hunting cats outside.

 

But every time the dawn decides,

gracefully again,

to prize open her tight shell

 

and somehow you pour back through me

like bright, returning blood

 

and the times I remember

to speak your name,

seize it--

(like the last rung of a ladder

dangled above me in air)--

 

I know you, that blood,

feel you purposefully press

creation—everything—

through me again.

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 this relationship they will come to a deeper 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

and poet-creators.

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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.

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About Sally Read:

I  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 I write poems for feasts and hermitage occasions. In reality this has led to the completion of my first collection of poetry as a Catholic, Dawn of this Hunger, which will be published later this year by Angelico Press and Second Spring. Soon I will be posting one or two poems from the collection here as a taster!

 I'm the author of three books of poetry (written before my conversion to Catholicism) and the story of my nine month conversion from atheism to Catholicism, "Night's Bright Darkness" was published by Ignatius Press in 2016. My book Annunciation: a Call to Faith in a Broken World came out with Ignatius Press in 2019. All of my spiritual writing is fruit of my prayerful association with the hermitage.

My website is www.sallyread.net  

and I live near Rome with my husband and daughter.

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