February 21, 2011

Sunrise at Svalbard Kirke

There are no stars behind the clouds. The night
Is blind, not even a moon to give light.

It was brighter before. In the deep cold
There are no clouds, nothing between the night
And the crisp snow. There is just an untold
Vastness, veiled by hissing vermilion light.

As the cold fades, the green and scarlet light
Recedes into a warmer, darker night.

Despite the dark, the path is better here.
The way is well-trodden, but the lamps' light
Is welcome all the same. Another year
Will have passed with the passing of this night.

But it is reluctant to pass, this night,
To yield its claim upon the hidden light.

We gathered here so many times before
To cry shared grief into an endless night;
This year, we journey to the church’s door
With thanks that so far, burdens have been light.

Above the ground holds memories of light.
Under the mountains, it is always night.

No starlight here, no gleam to ease the night,
Yet even here, our hearts remember light.
Though blackened are the hands which delve for coal,
We hold the sunlight deep within our soul.

'Mid all the noise, where sound replaces sight,
A quiet stillness says, let there be light.

Out of the dark, out of reluctant night
Are born the mountain peaks, etched from the turn,
Divided by the harbinger of light
From the receding heights for which they yearn.

Against the dawn is always darkest night,
Frustrating seeds impatient for the light.

A wash of water paints the ebbing night
In inky ocean shadows crowned with spray,
While high above, our steeple, loving light,
Is brushed with roses by the hem of day.

On twilight cries of gulls, recoiling night
Now quickly flees the rapier of the light.

Good cheer! Svale! You bring news of the night
Driven forth by swallows and doves in flight:
Beneath the rail, beneath the candlelight,
The quiet crosses set in glass ignite.

We stood and stared and cried with dazzled sight;
As sunlight dawned on five long months of night.

(On March 8, 2010, the sun returned to Longyearbyen and the Svalbard Kirke: northernmost church in the world.)

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