You gave the light and bade us go flourish in a freer, hope-strewn world
but I half-hesitant in stumbling steps missed yet the dance.
My light flickered, flaming, weak in the wind that hurled
me shelterless across the lands and down, down into the depths’ remonstrance.
Long years I searched there, diminished vain futility I bought and bartered,
searching for a buried pearl, a silver coin, a courage seam coal-black,
rich whispered deposits of the dead, marrow of the martyred
that would see my kindling spark and glowing tongues enfold my loss and lack.
O how I wandered! I tried to bring what light I had to bear upon the pain,
traced wounds in wretched darkness, sobbed with the demand for healing
until blind words burned with failure, bereft of benison or bane
in this abyss, scrawling upon the walls our petty proud dreams reeling,
and then alone. Only in this absence, bleak and bitter, came a rough scarred hand,
a touch, a voice proved cracked and true and oh! the warm sweet light-loved land!
© Michael Manning