Virtue to the sinner is of no value to the saint (a poem)

Bonus round—inspired by a phrase (‘strangely lighted year’) from e-mail received today from Ruby Throat…

In this strangely lighted year,
my eyes have been closed
far too often—
or I have found myself looking
in other directions
because straight ahead
was too horrifying
to contemplate.

Strands of Xmas lights
line the square,
a visible attempt at comfort
on behalf of us all
trying to navigate
the relentless strictures
on optimism, hope,
and our sense of safety.

When it’s too cold,
and hearts break and stop
after sleep fails to resolve,
breath is sometimes
the only thing left
to keep us warm,
the interlocking pulses
of hands clasped tightly
reminding us
of what we have to lose.

Blood makes noise.
Sometimes, it’s hard to hear
over the din;
if you’re not used
to reading lips,
you’re going to miss
the important bits—
even the lies
and the warning signs.

And sometimes,
it’s the cruel stench
and bitter taste
that snap us back to clarity
so that we pay attention,
so that we know
there are times we need to trust
what we see and hear
while we still can.

In this strangely lighted year,
they have changed rules
and rationales—
often without notice.
Where they have gone wrong
is that, while they think
they’re confusing us,
they’re giving us greater reason
to doubt them in the first place.

So, in this strangely lighted year,
my eyes may sometimes be closed;
my other senses are
on full alert.

(30 December 2017)