Caught by the River

A Poem for the Fourth Week of Advent

Katherine Venn | 22nd December 2009

Seven Advent Antiphons by Katherine Venn

Orange-rinded, hard and heavy in its pith
the pomegranate gives up its jewelled seeds
to be winkled out, like hard-won wisdom.

My father stands at the head of the table
bread-keeper, loaf-ward, conducting tea-time
operations with toasters, kettles, clementines.

Last year’s ugly doorknob of an amaryllis bulb
once more does the unthinkable: a glossy green sword
pierces potted earth and gleams into flower.

The small flat weight of a brass key in my palm
says I’ve come home; flung loose, and drawn again
into the old, familiar orbit.

Stumbling back from the pub on Christmas eve
we look up and see a field of frosty stars.
In a few hours the world will tip to morning.

Ribbons of red crepe suspended from the beams
hang a foil-embossed king, trembling amongst
the other cards in currents of heated air.

A night-light flickers in its papered jar.
A lit beauty, consuming but contained:
Flesh and blood, all flame: O Immanuel.