Advent Summons

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary’s veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Came forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

–Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.


Margaret Gibson with her husband David McKain.

This morning the little new
is a word I speak haltingly:
chantpleur. Quick now,
before it’s lost in the swell of wind
as the pines around our house
billow, and rain drills the roof–
say it, chantpleur. Again,
chantpleur. Hear it; let it course
down your face. Chantpleur,
a compound noun that yokes song
with the act of weeping. A noun
is a verb that holds still,
that settles in one place too long
and casts a spell of apparent
permanence. We think we’re nouns.
But really all I have to offer
is chantpleur, a word as impermanent
as the touch of rain upon my skin.
A word minted by one who has heard
the wordless song of the wind;
by one who sings and hears
within herself a blended sound,
a diphthong for the lyric river
pulsing in her wrist, a river wrested
from what no one wants to hear;
We’re losing him, he’s fading away, he’s not
himself, he’s slipped through
a rip in the mist. He’s with us, and not.
With us, and not. Chantpleur. Just look,
he moves his hands like birds as he speaks.
Every blessed word a winged
migration–flowing, flown. Chantpleur.

–Margaret Gibson, Broken Cup: Poems