Suddenly the day is done.
You look up from your occupation on the floor,
your serious play, and see that
darkness drifted in
and took your sunny room.
Your mother watches gravely as you put your toys away,
and when you cannot find your favorite,
and begin to fret, for you are tired,
she smiles and you recall –
you gave that dear possession to your friend
who came to play. At the memory you feel relief:
You have not spent the day in monumental deeds;
You are only a child,
but at least you are her child.
Now she gives you a small dinner,
dresses you for the night,
and you begin to drowse standing by the door,
and the fire goes out.
Your mother, ever gracious,
makes somberly a circuit of the chamber.
As she goes, she lights slim candles all around,
and last of all, she puts one candle in your hand.
So it is really true – even summer days
come to a close and bedtime really does arrive.
It was not easy to recall that as you played.
The room feels cold. The room repulses you:
that room you felt so friendly,
and so fine a place to spend the day –
Silent dread stands in its corners.
You cannot stay here now.
Mother sees you to the door
but you will go up the stairs alone.
Your father is waiting to bless your night.
The door is heavy. The door thuds closed
behind your back
and you begin to climb the stairs
in darkness feathered by a candle flame.
You hear your mother singing to you from below.
“Memory eternal, memory eternal, memory eternal!”
Where are the stairs?
Where is the lighted candle?
Where also is the dark?
If you turn, where is the door through which you came?
Where is the house and where are you yourself?
What is the name
by which you can continue to exist
in this dismantling?
Where are all the processes?
The darkness and the nothing shift;
you are less than embryo enwombed.
Only – One is there about whom nothing can be known.
You are seized with this One and to this One you go
as rock to the earth, as breath to the lungs.
In spaceless, timeless, breathless invisibility,
you are seized by the terror of the Lord.
A voice still sings, or something like a voice
is doing something, still, like singing.
Memory eternal, memory eternal, memory eternal.
Your own allotted time for remembering is past.
You had a summer day in which to recall Someone –
others had short winter days, full of only suffering.
All that is – and you no longer know what ‘all’ may be –
all rests in a more eternal Memory.
Some light that was a candle flame
remains, though a candle is useless to you now.
The shining of it has a shape –
a key made for the lock on your mind.
Something like singing still,
something like shining, still – and now,
a Memory not yours, and yet for you.
Eternal Memory does not allow
the backward rush of things into the past
where they sink gradually into the muck
clinging to the banks of Time,
nor does it let things fall
beside the road to decompose
in Time’s ghost towns.
Eternal Memory is not so fluid or so careless.
Why, it would seem there is no downstairs:
Your mother is not left behind.
The toy you gave away – even that is not a lost thing here.
Last of all your darkened room will be roused
from its dreadful slumber
by a final sunrise of remembering.
You will go on, desire drawing you,
pressing through that inward-facing ascent,
which began as if it were the climbing of a stair.
through terror and ignorance, You have returned
to the Beloved Unknown,and He is holding you.