Grief that Follows Advent – a poem by Thomas Allbaugh

Grief that Follows Advent


“I have found myself thinking of paths,”
I write, my voice not yet recognized as 
faith. “In this grace of a season, many green
and white words of prophets
and historians open not one but many 
paths.” In a calendar of words too bold for me 
announcing, announcing, endlessly announcing
an old, familiar kingdom we’ve
cycled through many times before
and a familiar infant not yet grown to us, who hasn’t
reflected yet our suffering— 
though often seen— 
remains strange and 
unknown, strange for being so familiar. 
There must be paths— 

why they allow 
silent prayer in with the corporate echoing 
on walls, allow the whispering 
community to circle nearby—words that 
may reach across our inner darkness. 

There must be paths, though words
fall, insincere, so many I can only settle for 
someone else speaking Latin in an adjacent room,  
mysteries of my own struggles forming in my embarrassment, 
affirming another than my own failure, my own sadness, 

announcing, announcing, announcing the
announcement:
At the end of whispers, take for a path, 
look forward 
to a looking forward unseen yet or felt, no 
words yet, only a path that others have carried us to, bricks 
on which they’ve placed our feet, where we’ve
crashed, lost in a wood, 

Dante in the middle of 
what is the path? Where are the voices 
you trust? Are they no more than bricks on a path, 
a walk in the dark? 

I have found myself thinking of paths. 
In the season that gives us
a calendar, there must be
paths.

Thomas Allbaugh is the author of Apocalypse TVSubtle Man Loses His Day Job and Other Stories, and The View from January. His work has appeared in Broken Sky 67 and Relief. He is professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, where he teaches composition and creative writing.

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