Four Candles

Four Candles – Watercolor, pencil, ink on paper – 11 x 17 inches.

I know the truth.
Forget all other truths.
No need for people
anywhere on this earth
to struggle.
For what? Poets?
Lovers? Generals?

Look: it is evening,
Look: it is nearly night.
The wind is level now,
the air is wet with dew.
Soon all of us will sleep
Beneath the earth,
We, who never let each other
Sleep above it.

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941)

None of us are strangers to darkness. I don’t mean the darkness that ends each day with the sun setting in the west like a postcard photograph. I don’t mean the even darker darkness of Nature, the rising rivers that overflow towns, the winds that roar throughout the night uprooting trees and blasting our homes into splinters and heaps of bricks and twisted metal.

I mean the darkness of other humans who invade our lives against our wishes. I mean drones and tanks and guided missiles that deliberately annihilate human beings and destroy their hospitals, schools and homes and churches. I mean lawmakers and politicians who regard the murder of children as the normal, acceptable costs of “doing business” in freedom’s land and bravery’s home.

We’re supposed to light candles, not curse the darkness. Sometimes it feels impossible not to curse darkness; there’s so much of it. And lighting candles seems so useless and inadequate: do prayers and candles ever bring back the ones we love from their graves into our arms?

Candles come in many forms. Every Spring, tulips bloom and then their petals wither and collapse back into the earth. I hope a year from now we all will still be here to see again the light they bring into our lives.

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