Stewart Moss

Holiday Candle
May 22, 2019 Moss Stewart

Holiday Candle
Thank you for your kind gift
of a red candle in a glass holder.
I put it on the side table
between the heavy Tibetan prayer bells
that summon the mindful,
and the black Japanese box fragrant
with riverbanks and stillness.
I will light it if Christmas neglects to come,
or if February is too much,
each day a dank shaft
with its dead canary. Maybe
I will even roast a chestnut
over the little flame
and eat the sweet flesh shaped
like the brain of a robin
and scatter the bits of shell
in memory of all the dreams I once had
that flew away from me.
Or perhaps I will hide it
in the deep oak drawer,
beneath my father’s frayed sweater
with the felt letter and the big shoulders
that made the moths delirious,
and his rumpled prayer shawl
still smelling of hair oil and Luckies,
and his leather phylacteries
balled tightly like fists
inside their battered green pouch,
and it will be a memorial, a yahrzeit,
amid the faint davening, the musty pews,
and it will show me the way
when I search for him
one more time but can’t find him,
and then when I stumble
past the objects
to join him.

As the former Executive Director of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the largest literary centers in the USA, Stewart Moss helped establish creative writing programs for adult immigrants, and members of the military being treated for neurological and psychological trauma. Moss has essays included in “Retire the Colors: Veterans & Civilians on Iraq & Afghanistan” (Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press, 2016) and Plume Literary Journal, and poetry in the spring ’16 edition of Origins Literary Review. He has also been featured in “The Poet and the Poem” podcasts at The Library of Congress. He was educated at Union College (NY) and Harvard University. A native of Boston, MA he resides in Annapolis, MD. His chapbook For Those Whose Lives Have Seen Themselves: Poems is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.