Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gratitude in Dark December

There's nothing more gratifying for a writer, I suppose, than to be read -- and to have a person or two in some way moved by the reading.  A couple of years ago, I penned "In Dark December" which has been published here and there in print and on line, and which I've read at several events.  Well -- people seem to like it and it's been spreading on the internet and by emails and now I get references to the piece from far and wide. Thanks to friend Kris Thacher for the above photo, showing the poem posted on the Poetry Pole on Candelaria Road in Albuquerque, New Mexico; a far piece from my digs in Northeast Wisconsin.  Sometimes, I think, a piece of writing can be bigger than its author, and that's certainly how I feel about this poem.  Grateful to have had my pen on paper -- my hook in the water -- when this one came swimming by.  Grateful, too, for the friends, new and old, who have helped keep this alive.    ~ RM

In Dark December
by Ralph Murre

Whatever you believe,
whatever you do not,
there are sacred rites
you must perform
in dark December.
Do this for me:
Pull together
the kitchen table,
the folding table,
and that odd half-oval
usually covered
with bills and broken pencils
and red ink.
Pull together family and friends,
cool cats and stray dogs alike.
Turn off everything
except colored lights,
the roaster,
the toaster, the stove.
Cook.  Bake.  Eat.
Yes, even the fruitcake.
Eat, crowded around
those assembled tables
with mismatched chairs.
Reach so far
in your sharing
that you hold the sun
in one hand,
the stars in the other,
and no one between is hungry.
Now walk together,
talk together,
be together
on these darkest nights.
Give and forgive.
Light candles and ring bells.
Sing the old songs.
Tell the old stories
one more time,
leaving nothing out,
leaving no one out
in the long night,
leaving nothing wrong
that you can make right.

~ first published in Peninsula Pulse                                                        


Rdl said...

Wonderful poem! Held special meaning to me.

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love this one.
Shannon and I are coming up for a visit soon; will call you.
Love, Steph

Other Mary said...

Ah, this is lovely...what we all remember of Christmas in childhood.

Ralph Murre said...

Thanks, all.

(Steph -- will be gone for a week or so soon -- hope to see you, though.)

Gillian said...

This is on a wall at South Nest. I read it every day I was there, last week, with gratitude to Nancy for having pinned it up and you, for writing it.

Gillian said...

24524This is on a wall at South Nest. I read it every day I was there, last week, with gratitude to Nancy for having pinned it up and you, for writing it.

Anonymous said...

Some call this a Christmas poem. With all due respect, it is much more than that. I read it every year on Winter Solstice sunset tours at the UW-Madison Arboretum, and this year I shared it with a Jewish group on New Year's Eve. Always give copies if asked.

Thanks beyond thanks, Ralph.

Over My Garden Gate said...

Love this poem, so very very much, have posted again to my FB page.
-Sue Sume, with admiration, respect and more than a tinge of envy for the creation of such a lovely thing

Anonymous said...

Wonderful poem. I wish I had written it. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and well written. Someone captioned an IG post with the opening words (with proper credit BTW), which was enough to get me searching for the complete text. A new favorite for me. :)

Unknown said...

Whoever you are...YOU are the first person I ever heard read this poem, on a Winter Solstice walk in the Arboretum. I knew I had to track it down--I can't remember how I did. I am forever grateful. It is one of the favorite poems of my lifetime.

And thank you, Ralph Murre!