advent journal: the small fire of winter stars


Mark Strand died this week. He was a poet, even a former U. S. Poet Laureate. In the middle of the violence that makes up our world, it feels worthwhile to say thanks for the life and words of a poet who held a sense of appropriate insignificance with grace; therefore I offer two of his poems tonight as we continue on our Advent journey.

This first one speaks to me because these short days don’t set well with my tendency toward depression. I’m grateful for the informed hope I hear in these words.

Lines for Winter

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

I love the creative tension of what it means to be human: that we matter greatly and that we are not indispensable both at the same time. He describes it well.

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Let us keep moving together.



  1. It is hell keeping things whole, but I hear what Mark Strand said and strongly identify. His poetry reminded me of a quote from Rumi: “A poet is someone who can pour light into a cup then raise it to nourish your beautiful, parched, holy mouth.” My thirst was quinched by his poetry and saddened by his passing. Keep creating.

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