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January 2016 vol 11 no 4

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Margaret Dornaus

St. Agnes’ Eve

My father has a penchant for spouting snippets of British poetry when it suits him, which is often, his small repertoire of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Keats recycled with each season. He bellows out one of his favorite winter lines, shaking off the bitter chill of an Oklahoma January as he steps into the warmth of our kitchen. His oversized galoshes already unbuckled, still dripping with precipitation as he leaves the heavy weight of oil leases and plains’ snow and ice temporarily behind him.

He’s a big man, my father. The timbre of his voice mellow and deep. It’s a voice that earned him a cross-Atlantic trip to pre-war Germany when he was just a teenager. A golden voice. Oratorical. The kind that breaks down the world of saints and sinners in a measured way, line by line, year after year.

yahrzeit candle
from my lips to God’s ears
your memory

Note: In the Jewish religion, a yahrzeit candle is lighted on the eve of the anniversary of a person’s death and burns continuously for 24 hours as a memorial to the passage.