Saturday, December 14, 2013

john f. deane | driving to midnight mass in dublin on christmas eve

Five thousand million years ago
this earth lay heaving in a mass of rocks and fire
and burdened with its emptiness

when anthropods and worms and sponges
have given way to working, wondering apes
homo erectus have given way to sapiens
and he to homo sapiens sapiens
alias Paddy Mack,
look down on Dublin from the hills around.
Them lights could be a million Christmas trees
still forest standing
while in the sky a glow as if of dawn:
"This day a light shall shine on us.
The Lord is born within our city."

Look along to the river
toward O'Connell Bridge:
the lights, the neon signs
all stream on water like breathed-on strips of tinsel.
All is still.

Pubs begin to empty.
Men stop to argue,
sway and say the name of Jesus.
"For those who have known darkness
have now seen a wondrous light:
those who have dwelt in unlit streets,
to them the light has come."

few cars go by.
The blocks of flats with windowed plastic trees and fairy lights
watching for a miracle.
Here are no dells where fairies might appear.

Out from the dark
an ambulance comes speeding,
sickly blue lights searching,
siren still.

The mystery of the night ticks slowly on:
it will pass and leave memories of friends
and small half-welcome things.
"In him was life:
and his life was the light of men."

For neither prehistoric swamps
nor trilobites,
the mezozoic birds,
neanderthal nor modern man,
had ever dreamt or seen
what was our God.

The shops are gay with lights and bright things.
All save funeral homes:
they dare not advertise their presence.

As midnight peals and organs start to play
two cars meet headlong in a haze of drink.
The crash flicks into silence,
pain crawls like slime through blood and into limbs.
God is revealed:
a baby,
crying in a crib.

In the church porches and out along the grounds
teenagers laugh and swear,
watching girls.

So once more Christmas trails away,
its meaning moves back into the mist
and the march of time.