2018 ADVENT POETRY

Week 1: HOPE

Read on 12/2/8

Image by Joseph Prestamo

Image by Joseph Prestamo

You promised that you would come back

By Joseph Prestamo

You promised that you would come back 
I want to believe you.

I remember how your words wrapped themselves 
Around my shoulders, 
Your hand warm over my heart.

I remember when I found you on the beach, 
My surprise to see your face glowing against the dark night, Brighter than the boardwalk lights in the distance.

I can still feel your arms, sometimes, 
As if you were right next to me. 
But then the stark reality of your absence 
Makes me wonder, all at once, if you were ever even real.

Do you remember the way I paced my bedroom as a kid, 
Carrying my childlike faith and my childlike fear 
Securely in my little backpack? 
I think you were with me then.

I find myself hoping it’s all true. 
Hoping, wishing, waiting; 
What’s the difference between any of them? 
Because friends, who think they are being kind, 
Will tell me that I am foolish — 
Me and my misplaced hope.

One foot in front of the other, 
One good day, followed by one bad day, 
Your love pulls me forward. 
I see your glowing face still, 
A quiet thrill vibrating inside my chest.

I don’t know how to wait patiently, 
But you promised me that you would come back.


Week 3: PEACE

Read on 12/16/18

Image by Joseph Prestamo

Image by Joseph Prestamo

Cradle

By Shiman Shan

For years I would remember 
and testify to a peace –
of sleep so sweet

not mattress-related magic
or melatonin
or mouse-quiet

but the madness of midterms
and the clatter of friendship
when all was good

some culmination – post
midnight procrastinations
in a found-crib we curled up in

creaking out at the seams
a lullaby
to hold our love

what distance now 
and how it sprouted then
like weeds, the ease of peace

and evades me now
just as easily



Week 2: JOY

Read on 12/9/18

Image by Joseph Prestamo

Image by Joseph Prestamo

JOY COMES

By Mary Eden

Joy comes
In the tramping of dead leaves 
Through the park
When all else fails 
And there’s nothing to do
But walk
ahead 
In an unknown season.

An orange cat slips by,
Surprising the suspended squirrel,
And me,
And I remember Sunny,
The kitten we fostered in the summer 
Before I grew up.

How he chased me around the garage
Arms open like a surprise 
How he was joy to me

How he died as I held him by the fireplace
Wrapped in a kitchen towel for warmth
When the surprise of sickness won.

Why do tears come now 
The wound of a little life lost
Still fresh in my mind?

Why do tears come now 
But to say that death is strange 
Even the death of a small cat
In the arms of a child 
Who could not bring him back to life?

Why do I call this joy —
When the cat disappears 
And the squirrel goes back to work — 
Why do I call this joy 
But to say that 
In some small way I understand:
Pain is for the one who loves.
Is death the final word, then,
Or am I?


Week 4: LOVE

Image by Joseph Prestamo

Image by Joseph Prestamo

Read on 12/23/18

I build 
By Rachel Ingram

I build
Love’s mortar missing 
Rusty tools construct a wobbly wish 
Echo-y insides stop short Love’s sound

And figure slips away
And faint fortune fades
And hope-filled remembrance 
Is all there is to grasp with soul’s appendages

I eat on the floor 
I taste you in foreign dishes 
Still hungry after feast.

I sleep on the floor
I toss, tempted 
Not for Your absence but mine

I hold It in my hands as I pray for It. 
“Shh” it as I plead for it. 
Mourning the container while its substance I hold

Acquaint me
Let me feel it, let me see it. 
You indulge the faithless ask asked faithfully

I hear at last. 
“Level everything
Take your hammer
Take your seed
Go build your house on Love.”