Grief and Hope

So many people face bereavement at this time of year, and in the past few months three friends or close family members of friends have died. Remembering them, both in giving thanks for their lives (two short and the other long), I am today sharing a poem I wrote two years ago. Perhaps this poem comforts only me; but so many light candles to reflect and remember, all over the world, that I hope this poem reaches out to others, as well.

Seven Candles

Light me a candle for sorrow:
For the one on a journey with no returning
And pennies on his eyes for the burying.

Light me a candle for tomorrow:
For the tug of longing & the loss of hope,
For the winds of war & the stuttering of prayer.

Light me a candle for blissful memories
In the darkest hours of night:
For sunlit colours & the laughter of friends.

Light me a candle for thankfulness:
For the holy moments of marrying,
For childbirth & the first faltering prayers of children.

Light me a candle for blessedness:
For bread & wine on a sacred table—
To stand & burn in beauty & in tenderness.

Light me a candle for gladness:
For a welcome at windows late in the evening,
For the hush & stillness of soft sleep.

Light me a candle for peace:
For the swansdown drift of dreams;
For the gift of Christ at Christmas,
And for His rising on Easter’s radiant morning.
Yes, light me a candle for the breath of day’s dawning.

The hiss of a flame, the flare of a spark
Will raise us soon against the dark.

Words and image © Lizzie Ballagher

 

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November: a time to reflect, a time to remember

Seven Candles

Light me a candle for sorrow:

For the one on a journey with no returning

And pennies on his eyes for the burying.

 

Light me a candle for tomorrow:

For the tug of longing & the loss of hope,

For the winds of war & the stuttering of prayer.

 

Light me a candle for blissful memories

In the darkest hours of night:

For sunlit colours & the laughter of friends.

 

Light me a candle for thankfulness:

For the holy moments of marrying,

For childbirth & the first faltering prayers of children.

 

Light me a candle for blessedness:

For bread & wine on a sacred table—

To stand & burn in beauty & in tenderness.

 

Light me a candle for gladness:

For a welcome at windows late in the evening,

For the hush & stillness of soft sleep.

 

Light me a candle for peace:

For the swansdown drift of dreams;

For the gift of Christ at Christmas,

And for His rising on Easter’s radiant morning.

Yes, light me a candle for the breath of day’s dawning.

 

The hiss of a flame, the flare of a spark

Will raise us soon against the dark.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher – words and image

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Sad Piano

For me there’s something poignant about a piano put out for removal by the local waste collection service. How many songs have been played on that old piano? Dances danced? Shows accompanied? Romances begun? A piano’s wood and metal structure is surely more than the sum of its parts. This little poem, a haiku, celebrates and mourns the piano you see in the photograph.

put out with rubbish

abandoned to sun, rain, I

play only sorrow

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Shadow Dancers

In this final post on dancing, I imagine someone I once knew who played the piano for ballet dancers: someone who never drew attention to himself – just played.

Shadow Dancers

High summer’s light—June light—and curtains
At French windows shift in air invisible.
Fiercely frowning, alone, an old man bows to the piano keys.
His fingers flash & fly, strike black & white alike.
Behind him, he hears pale dancers
Who are not there,
Who might return (or not),
Who once were here (but now are not)—

Hears them slip, skip, step to his fingers’ lift & lilt;
Hears at the shining grand-piano keyboard
The schuss, the brush, the hush of silken shoes
On polished gold-grained floorboards
As his hands follow & give chase:
Shadow & reach
Echo & overlap
Criss-cross & race.

His fingers stretch & span the keys
While dancers spin & leap the fifths & octaves.
Around him, around the ones who are not there,
Mirrors gleam back lightness of steps; glass
Beams back the dazzle of brilliant notes:
Waiting for the beat,
Syncopating feet
All resonating.

In the dancing room,
Echoing the poise, the pose, the pause
Of pallid dancers in an empty place
With drifting translucent curtains,
Echoing the peace of dancers in a bleached, bare, beech-wood space
Of bright piano keys,
Of mirrors floor to ceiling height,
Of white light full of angles, reflections, refractions—

The music cascades, fades in a dying fall.
See! The player at the grand piano turns, quite spent.
Pale dancers in his head, his ears,
Have also turned; not one of them remains:
Just soundless music in his hands, his mind.
Somewhere, something (he cannot say) aches today.
Some kind of loss (o! strike white! strike black!) breaks grey in him.
Then something takes his breath away.

© Lizzie Ballagher

2015-07-17 13.05.412015-07-16 10.12.30

With thanks to the managers and staff at Dance Junction in Rochester, Kent, UK.

 

 

Leaving Home

IMG_0022Morning moves like a lover:
Slow, and arching over.

Day comes grey as a dovewing,
Patient and soft as the breast
Of a thrush on its nest—
The beating down of birdwing.

No moon, no stars, no bite
Of winter yet in paling light,
But no, no mercy either
In this eastern earliness.

Now you breathe the rhythm of my dawn,
Skin damp on mine; close, warm;
But far away from us
A cold bird summons, calls,

And the veiled air curls,
White, already autumn chilled:
Deep clouds dip down, hang fullness.
The loud cock crows, cracks stillness.

Wet grasses rise to my face’s hollows;
Willow and elder stand beaded and bowed,
Damsoned and drooping
As I must leave you sleeping.

How morning breaks
My heart!

© Lizzie Ballagher