In the windows of countless stories across the earth
Candles flicker bravely in endless nights of waiting
A light to guide absent feet back to home and hearth
A path back to love, lit for a lost soul’s navigating.
Stories speak of patient love, always waiting to forgive
But the casual storyteller never seems to count the cost
Of the vigil – for “endless” is easily written, but far harder to live
In being faithful to the wanderer, the waiting soul too is lost
Yet futile self-sacrifice still retains a glamorous magnetism
Although waiting seems to take less courage than moving on
But life continues to send nudges of reviving pragmatism,
As if saying, don’t waste precious hours in endless hanging on.
The cost of heroic waiting is more than the human soul can handle
And so, arising with stiffened limbs, I blow out the candle.
The germ for this poem came from two sources – first a dimly remembered scene from a film (I think it was War and Peace) of a candle burning in a window as a woman kept vigil for the man she loved. And secondly a song by Duparc (Au pays ou se fait la guerre), depicting a woman waiting endlessly in her tower for her lover long beyond the point when it seems possible he will return. And, as in my earlier poem, Myths, it seemed to me that this was an image of heroic tragedy that could very easily become a trap.