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.
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.
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
or the wordless edges
Listen: a dropped pin would sing,
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
when nothing is left to be taken
but the pure pipes of air
but the narrow veins of air
birthing, in time,
the inexpressible bodies
of your angels.
copyright Sally Read 2016: If you wish to use this material please contact The Asketerion for permission