Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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on approach to lighting a tree

The Whites are singing the morning awake today, as the dogs get fed, as I make some tea and watch things busy up out the window over the kitchen sink. Today I am grateful, as always, to see another sunrise, listening to music, in a place that I love deeply. Writing is on my mind this morning, I have had little time or energy for it this week, and it feels luxurious to anticipate the smooth feel of my pen on paper.

Day by day the house is looking a little more Christmas-ish. Favorite memory rich things bringing light and color to December’s squeezing down days. I am riding a wave of work that began the day after Thanksgiving and won’t quit until just before Christmas. It leaves my thoughts dim and cloudy in transition each night, muffled by tiredness., unless there is music to open my heart’s inner ear and let feelings out to air.

Happily this time of year is rich that way. Wednesday night found me singing with the Fitzwilliam Occasional Singers, rehearsing for Sunday afternoon’s tree lighting on the Common. Roughly fifteen of us, friends and fellow singers, gather every year to do this, and my city emigre heart is glad to sing again in a small village, and be part of a gift to the children and families of Fitzwilliam.

It will be full dark as we walk over from the church, just before five. The village windows glowing with candle lights. The tree waiting, unlit. Bustle. Portable lights get turned on. People begin to arrive, drifting into the glow from the recesses of the Common. Children sit on the ground in front, a wide crescent of small bundled up figures and smiling faces. It will be cold (but not as cold as last year, when Deb’s accordion froze up and we had to sing a cappella).

And then we will begin. Walden reading A Visit From St. Nicholas (The Night Before Christmas), Bill leading us through the carols we rehearsed, accompanied by Deb on her accordion. Then a carol sing for everyone (first verses only, and lots of laughter for Rudolph). At last Santa will roll in on the Fitzwilliam Fire Truck to light the tree, and talk to the children.

After there will be hot cocoa (so good in the cold) and home made cookies, while folks visit, then slowly disperse as the evening’s trappings are loaded into cars and trucks, along with us. Dark and quiet will settle on the Common again, except for the tree, its shining presence standing sentry until the new year.

 


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morning gifts

this morning, safe here
in a house in sight of woods
that are my paradise, enriched
by nature, friendship
and by song,
I fly the carpet
of the past to places
rent apart by fear and hate,
cities come full circle,
back to the boil,
remembering too many
older furies,
scars of fire and rage,
spurred on by tragic news
that opened wide
the throat of anger,
again. and yet again.

is there a morning gift
to move a child,
in that beleaguered place
to see beyond, to hope?
perhaps a bud about to burst
rather than shattered glass,
a snatch of song
instead of shouts,
the momentary joy of play,
a quiet hug and loving words?
oh how I wish it were
a simple thing to banish hate
this way, and seed our future
with small scatter shots
of peace