February 2nd, Candlemas
It is time to take the candles down, the window candles
--golden-flickering, soft beacons in hard winter
the house cold till I conjure dinner
with a purple globe of wine while darkness settles like ash
and night falls fast and silent
save for the blare and blaze of passing ambulance.
I didn’t know today was Candlemas until the groundhog
saw his shadow, like Noah’s dove finding only snow.
Then I remembered: Robert Herrick:
Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays, and mistletoe.
Forty days past Christmas, and all must be put away.
The candles are the last to go.
No waxy warmth in my hand, but stalwart still--
batteried batons of metal, plastic, capped with light.
I take each from every sill
and shadows grow a little deeper,
no jeweled reflection in the mirroring pane.
New things succeed, as former things grow old,
Herrick once more, summoning Isaiah’s brash hope.
I line the candles, side-by-side, on the oaken table
and leave the room, doubting newness, craving light.
And I forget, then I remember, when I return
That batteries don’t expire on Candlemas and the whole table glows.