9-4 Dusk to Dawn – Canticle For The Bereaved

Dusk to Dawn – Canticle For The Bereaved

1. Dusk of death

The sun plunges into black waves
That pummel me
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.1

I gasp for air beneath wave after wave
in this grotto as the tide rises and rises
and lightning pierces over and over
like a tempest over the Sea of Tiberius but no one
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!”2

They offer their hands and dry my eyes,
lift me to the shore where I sway at the sight
of a mast, listing back and forth
Bearing a torn sail. I groan upward but
He has cast me into the mire,
And I have become like dust and ashes.
I cry out to You, but You do not answer me;
I stand up, and You regard me.3

2. Night of grief

The bed is a crevasse; its sides
of sheets are cold as sleet in polar winter.
I go to the place from which I shall not return,
To the land of darkness and the shadow of death,
A land as dark as darkness itself,
As the shadow of death, without any order,
Where even the light is like darkness.4
The empty room deafens.

They warm me with food and stroking hands
and read to me:
For the Lord will not cast off forever.
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.5
The world spins at dizzying speed;
flesh feels like a thorn in the heart;
the enemy whispers dark lies:
He has also kindled His wrath against me,
And He counts me as one of His enemies.6

I dwell in Sheol.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death7
I do not feel You near me.
I do not feel You comfort me.
My God, my God; what have you abandoned me?8

3. Dawn of hope

I sit in the upper balcony hearing Verdi’s Requiem,
a Mass for my beloved, who vanished from the bedroom.

Kyrie eleison – Lord have mercy
Christe eleison – Christ have mercy
Kyrie eleison – Lord have mercy

Libera me, Domine – deliver me, O Lord.

My heart sings this through the months and the first year.
The bedroom tomb is a greenhouse nursery—
Boston Ferns hanging from the ceiling
and a rosy Amaryllis bursting by the window.
Gardenia causes me to swoon.

The thorn is shallower. O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?9
Still stings, Lord.

But days are shorter, nights brighter.
You promise: I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life.10

Kyrie eleison.
1 Ps. 69:1-2, 2 Mk. 4:39, 3 Job 30:19-20, 4 Job 10:22-23, 5 Lam. 3:31-33, 6 Job 19:11, 7 Ps. 23:4, 8 Ps. 22:1, 9 1 Cor. 15:55, 10 Jn. 8:12.

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