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In Advent, the hermit lights a candle-end,
Drips wax onto a saucer, stands it there.
The early nightfall forms itself around
This little shivering flame. He says his prayer:
Stir up Thy power, Lord. Outside, the wind
Has risen. Rain flicks its fingers at the window.
He’s alone. God’s called him to this homeland
Of loneliness, leafmold. The lengthening shadow
Creeps always from the trees. The winter air
Smells of it. At prayer he is God’s widow,
His heart bereaved and restless. Prepare, prepare—
The word exhorts him. The wet evening’s slow
Footfalls drag. He nods in candlelight,
Then darkness. So the watchman guards the night.

—Sally Thomas

Photo by Keith Trice via Creative Commons