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December 22, 2011 / thomcaraway

Advent Two

Kathryn Smith

What does it mean, in the year 2011, in an urban setting, to prepare the way of the Lord? What if a neighbor’s howling dog is a messenger, the voice crying out of which Isaiah speaks? Or perhaps we’re the messengers, the ones to bring comfort. This poem allows those possibilities as it explores the notion that the sacred dwells within the mundane.

Prepare the Way

I.

I will howl at the moon for blazing and howl
at birds as they wake, their notes

piercing the night. Too bright! Too early
for singing! Those poor stars

cannot abide such shrill distraction. They
have been given one grim task:
guiding souls through night’s fissures
to its bleary end. I am the one

called to keep the darkness
from cracking. I am the one
who keeps watch, the voice crying out:
In the neighborhood, prepare! Oh stars,

cradles of light in the wilderness!
How can birds know all this, their bird brains
filled with chatter, gossip
of the night and of each star’s reason for fading?

II.

In my dream I comfort the dog
who’s been left out all night,
take him a dish of water.
There now, I say, stroking his ears,
scratching behind them. I leave him
to drink, to sleep then if he is able,
as I continue to the next yard, unlatch
the gate, greet the next dog with the same
soft consolations. All the neighborhood mutts
await me, the quencher of thirsts.
Piece by piece their dissonant chorus
diminishes, dawn
fills with the cacophony of bird-song,
and in the gathering light
the dogs return to their dreams.
The whole rescued world sleeps.

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