For Hanukkah, to Take Through the Winter

Hanukkah candles lit in two hanukkiyot
I like to watch the flames against the wall,
                                    not the window.
I like to watch the flames against the wall,
                                    not the window.
Against the wall, you see not only light but darkness.
Against the wall, you see the edges glow.
Against the wall, you hear your grandparents call.
There are times, you don’t need to show them all.
Sometimes, we advertise, we publicize, we share.
Sometimes, what we do and say is not for us alone, but what we can show to others.
But sometimes, others refuse to listen:
they shout you down with waving flags,
colored patches
and nothing you say and no flame you light will change
the mantras in their throats and ears.
And in those sometimes, you hold onto a flame, no fears of being burnt, because you know it won’t consume you.
It will sustain you, those flames for you alone.
In those sometimes, you see light and darkness and shadow and interplay
and that black is brown when orange glows against it,
and when the flames lie down for the night and a skinny plume of smoke rises,
you can rest in the knowing that these rituals are for you,
and for no one else,
for all of your people.
Darkness reigned before God separated light from within it.
But couldn’t God have extinguished the darkness, if it was so so bad?
But God did not, and left us with both, the darkness and the light.
Light may show us the way,
and darkness may renew us, to get back up again.
And when this holiday ends, another flame will rise and fall, and another, and another,
and we will keep lighting,
and we will keep resting.
Sometimes, your flames will be in windows, and sometimes, they will be against the wall.
For you and yours alone.
For you and yours alone.
A flame
for you and yours alone.
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