Candlelight Journey

by Ralph Dumain

(Recording December 21, 2020,
Winter Solstice,
Conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn)

I usually do not write poems for special occasions, but this one was prompted by an upcoming monthly poetry class conducted via Zoom. The theme was to be ‘lights’, presumably in view of the holiday season—Hannukah, Christmas, the winter solstice, etc. While I am indifferent at best to this holiday season, it occurred to me to connect a vague idea that had run through my mind for some time to the concept of candles.

The germ of that idea is contained in the verses that commence with “You, too …” I began with the “lonely road” and worked in the candle, and then worked backwards to the logical progression and forwards to the conclusion. The very end and the very beginning came last; the title came somewhere in the middle.

Had I more time, I could have expanded the narrative, stuffing more of what constitutes the journey into it, but as it stands it still expresses everything I intended to express (with the exact structure that suits it), and I am pleased to have presented a coherent whole.

My poem digs into what is most fundamental, more fundamental than all the holidays or occasions people invest themselves in celebrating. I hope you will feel the intimacy as well as the solitude commemorated in this piece. I began writing it on December 15, 2020 and finished it the morning of December 18, just a couple hours prior to the class in which I recited it.

Candlelight Journey

Who lit the first candle
Before I pushed against ground
and stretched to the sky in jubilation or pleading?
I sit in contemplation.

You, too, will take those little steps.
You, too, will make those chancy leaps.

As you inhabit your full height,
You, too, will have many adventures,
You, too, will feel a catch in your throat,
You, too, will be hypnotized by love.

Your heart will swell at the little ones’ smiles,
You will flex your muscles and wear yourself out,
And will do, it seems, what can be done.

As the world flies by, out of your control,
You, too, will shudder at your loved ones’ pain.

You, too, will stumble down that lonely road
Under a mournful moon, under a blistering sun
trailing the shadow of yesterday.

You, too, will light candles,
candles for what we’ve lived through,
           you and me.

—> Sound file (recitation by R. Dumain) <—

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Uploaded 21 December 2020

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