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Season of skinny candles
Marge Piercy


A row of tall skinny candles
burn quickly into the night
air, the shamesh raised
over the rest
for its hard work.
Darkness rushes in
after the sun sinks
like a bright plug pulled.
Our eyes drown in night
thick as ink pudding.
When even the moon
starves to a sliver
of quicksilver
the little candles poke
holes in the blackness.
A time to eat fat
and oil, a time to gamble
for pennies and gambol
around the table, a light
and easy holiday.
No disasters, no
repentance, just remember
and enjoy. The miracle
is really eight days
and nights without trouble.

From The Crooked Inheritance (Knopf, 2007)
Copyright 2005 by Marge Piercy.
Used with the authorís permission.

Marge Piercy is the author of 17 novels,†18 books of poetry, a memoir, and a collection of short stories; her work has been translated into 19 different languages. Born in Detroit, Marge†survived a†difficult childhood and has been at the forefront of the feminist movement for most of her life. She writes with brutal honesty, a trait that has made her†a popular speaker on college campuses. She has taught, lectured and/or performed her work at more than 450 venues around the world and conducts a†juried intensive poetry workshop every June in† her hometown of Wellfleet, Massachusetts.†Marge's poetry is often viciously funny, particularly when she takes on such topics as contemporary opinion and behavior. Visit her website

Post New Comment:
For one who hates the dark time of year this poem is a blessing!
Posted 12/11/2014 09:12 AM
Everyone should read Marge Piercy!! She's great.
Posted 12/11/2014 08:14 AM
This is a heavily-anthologized poem for good reason. She gets so much out of the word shamesh in that the reader enters an older world. Being a goy, I had to look it up--a candle used to light other candles, the perfect word.
Posted 12/10/2014 11:32 PM

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