Two poems by Lynda Maraby

In the Company of Angels

 

Heads bent low
we focus on the
dark ground
as one foot
proceeds
the other

finding little time
for conversation.

Presently
their shadowy
forms seem mere
obstructions
to the waning light.

Inspiration shallow,
even their singing
stops as
we turn inward, heedless of
loving hands that
lend balance
or support.

Undaunted still
they walk
beside us

hoping we will turn
to see and
smile.

Boxing Christmas

 

From a warm
hearth it is
easy to lift the
little lean-to from
the mantle, wrap
each figurine in
tissue, bag
the gilded plastic
straw and place
them in the
box that bears
their name.

The tree takes
longer.
Needles fall as
ornaments removed by
careful hands reveal
the simple
beauty of
each branch

the bright
angel who
watched over
all resumes her
winter sleep.

So I wonder
when that first
angel choir had
finished singing for
a homeless infant born
when all the
shelters shut
their doors

was there emptiness or did
songs of
joy continue
in their
hearts?
 
A note from the poet, Lynda Maraby, about her use of angels:
Whether we believe in the standard images of angels, I think they symbolize something true. In the physical universe, despite all the suffering and grief, if we observe carefully, there is also hope and joy. So often, we focus on the negative and ignore it, and this tendency appears to be a human trait, perhaps partly from guilt over our contribution to that suffering. But if we look at nature, we see a movement toward wholeness. Trees waiting to bud and bloom, mother cats tenderly grooming their kittens, flower bulbs that hide their sprouts until just the right moment. I think these poems reference that joy latent in all life and waiting to burst forth. The Christmas story and its angel heralds is a kind of promise that there is another possibility, one which we have only to open up and see.

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A poem for the First Sunday of Christmas

Storm Warning

by Lynda Maraby

Silence
and the dropping curtain
of a late December

Herod’s forces
regroup
for one last offensive
from a horizon
obscured.

Ensconced in tinsel
and tradition,
we scurry
to whatever
beckons

hoping for inward grace,
searching for outward signs,
distracted

by all the pretty lights.

A note from the poet:

I wrote this poem a long time ago, but reworked it as “Storm Warning” at the outset of the Gulf War, when some were predicting an easy and quick victory. I was especially appalled at the notion that we could make a first strike. Although the leadership of Iraq was corrupt, that did not seem like enough reason to enter into a such a conflict. The propaganda was full of the same old patriotic claptrap about keeping us safe, but we were about to commit lives and resources to something so thinly veiled that oil dereks and dollar signs were visible just under the surface.

The reference to Herod came later, as I reflected on the nature of politically generated conflict in general. I think the reference to the slaughter of the innocents in the New Testament was a similar kind of comment (perhaps comparing the actions of Rome against its seized territories to those of Pharoah in Exodus).  It seems have not learned much since then except how to kill faster and more efficiently. We certainly have not learned how to control those political leaders who think they can do whatever they like in the name of protecting the common good.  I say “we” because all are culpable (and, as the poem implies, too easily hoodwinked).

This poem was published in 2007 in Simul: Lutheran Voices in Poetry. Maitland, FL, Xulon Press.

Lynda Maraby is a member of Salem Congregation.