Today is Candlemas
It is a time when we notice a turning in winter. There are shoots beginning to appear, catkins are lengthening, and the buds of the blackthorn and the quince are swelling – the quince with a dark pink blush. There is movement, at last, despite the cold and the damp. The days are growing longer. It is a time when, despite the cold to come, we can see that light and life are stirring again.
This poem, small and simple as it is, draws on these themes in my own spirit. Part of the process of getting ready for writing, for me, is lighting a candle. At the moment I have a particularly lovely one given to me by my daughter for Christmas, it has flecks of cinnamon bark in it and it smells rich and warm. However, the words do not always flare up with the flame. So, a thing I sometimes do, is write about what is before me, and in this case, it was the experience of not being able to write, and fiddling with the candle as I often do. It became an illustration of the writing process, and a reminder to flow, to do, to begin, to not give up.
Sitting here, with a notebook open
at a blank, cold page, I light a candle,
hoping the fragrance, the bright flame, will help.
I watch it burn, but its wick is short and soon
its own heat has melted a pool of wax,
enough to drown it. The thin red flame gutters,
splutters, as the heat drills down a narrow,
deep well with softening, curving walls.
So I take my pen, and press it down on the
wall, turning it in my fingers, pressing a
way through so the hot wax can flow.
And now the flame burns bright and steady,
the is air fragrant, and this page no longer blank.