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.

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.

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

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