A brief History of Candles

In all corners of the city, women light candles. Fold
messages into envelopes with sealed lips. Here the walls
are crammed with them. Requests, blessings, complaints
side by side with jealousies, rote verses, ritual repetitions
and pigeon droppings. The pigeons have a task here too, they
carry notes in their beaks to kings and generals. The City
is sleeping, its guards inattentive, engrossed in protests against
the rising rentals and cramped living quarters. Devoted to studies
too busy to fight, they huddle at benches swaying, repeating
613 blessings backward until dawn. On horseback, flags and
lances hoisted, kings and generals pant at the walls. A tide
of military music engulfs the candles, a city covered in molten wax
slinks from its ramparts underground to centuries of foreign tongues.

 

In corners of the earth, women light candles. Men return from
prayer, their right arms enclosed in slings. Deep in a cellar

somewhere a bearded army sharpens knives.

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© Johnmichael Simon

2010

.