The poem Hearts Incandescent Glow by Good Samaritan Sister Marie Casamento is in response to the theme of ‘Hope’ in the 2022 ACU Prize for Poetry.
Hearts Incandescent Glow
Outside the moon hung crookedly,
casting a myriad of snakelike shadows, weaving eerily
through the missile creations of a narcissist’s greed.
Inside under a golden globe of orthodoxy,
a bent over woman strikes a match,
bearing eighty years of weight upon her shoulders.
It slowly lights the deepest darkness in the world’s war torn souls.
One by one, by one, a furtive army of faithful souls creeps into the hallowed space.
Knee bending, heart crossing souls, take a lone candle each to place it,
before the tattered icon wrought asunder by aimless destructive superiority.
One by one, faltering step upon faltering step, they come to light the darkness,
to cast away, to banish the threatening silent shadows of post traumatic fear.
Down, deep, deep down in the bowels of this ancient ruined cathedral,
they scurry, they hide, they whisper in silent icy breath, ‘Mamma, Papa’,
‘Where, where are you?’
Tears in the darkness glisten on wet eyelashes, and wan cheeks.
Once aglow like the red of the round robin’s breast,
wan now, pale now, sunken now, with the sudden death knell of war.
Deep down in the bowels of the earth a hundred children
struggle for warmth, in the chilled arms of their mothers, and grandmothers.
Like small babes clamouring at dried breasts for nourishing milk,
they snuggle, struggle, wriggle and sink deep in desperate need of reassurance, as they finger mamma’s necklaces, bangles, broaches and rings,
symbols of love and assurance, and most of all promise of enduring resilience.
A strident youth,
stands in the doorway of the broken open cathedral,
rendered asunder, open, vulnerable, emptiness
made even more poignant, by the darkness struck silent, in the single candles
aglow with possibility, lit by ages’ wisdom, and silent hope filled wishes.
Down, down, down below ground, he travels stopping now to catch his breath,
to survey, the dank, still, ever descending darkness.
Down, down, down he travels, deep below ground,
down, down, down, to the bowels of the earth.
Breathless again he stops and listens,
a hundred small hearts pulse warm, and secure, in ancient breasts,
clasping jewelled promises of love, life and possibility.
Turning slowly now,
he climbs up, up, up,
past the sleeping babes rocked gently in the silence of the depths.
Up, up, up,
past the darkness of a thousand granite steps,
past, way past ground level, past the glow of a hundred candles.
The steps are narrower now steeper
They twist, turn, twist again
until they break open to a rounded, hollowed, hallowed space.
Slowly he moves within the golden dome.
For a brief second he pauses, to reflect on priceless symbols,
and tattered, torn, crookedly displaced icons.
He creeps across the dome to a tiny window
that emits a single glow.
There the distant star births hope,
the dawning of a new day, pauses in time,
pregnant with the glow of possibility.
For conceived in breast satisfied babes, ancient hearts, and resilient youths,
HOPE, springs a new abiding, here, for hope is the promise here,
and Icons of hope hang uniformly stable on Cathedral walls and souls.
‘Hope’, whispers the elderly woman,
‘Hope’, amidst tears, cries a toddler,
‘Hope, yes hope’, yells the youth in the glow of the dawn’s promise.
Yes, yes, amen to hope, amen. Orthodox Easter dawns.
– Marie Casamento SGS
Published with permission from Australian Catholic University. For information about prizewinners in the 2022 ACU Prize for Poetry, click here.