A Vigil on Lucy’s Night
by Rebecca Dempsey
It’s difficult to recall, my life, before I fell in love. That ‘ordinary nothing’ kind of existence of work and chores
and bills, but those days are gone. Now, I feel like I’m drowning yet ‘the world’s whole sap is sunk’. Once, I
was a teacher and tried to make disinterested teens see the worth in poetry. Maybe I still am. Not a teacher
perhaps, but a lesson, to those who would ‘study me…. who shall lovers be at the next world’.
It used to be that I thought poetry was meant to be a solace, but I remember those damned lines from
Donne; ‘for I am every dead thing, in whom Love wrought new alchemy’. Love and be damned, don’t they
say? There’slittle consolation in rhyme and meter anymore and, I think fall is the right way to talk about
my love. Without him, life is ‘dull privation and lean emptiness’ indeed. I fell further when he died.
‘Life is shrunk’. I’m still falling. He ‘ruin’d me’? Ah John Donne, possibly he did. I don’t know.
It was near midnight, but the glass panes had been painted black any way to defeat the merest hint of natural
light and there was no electricity. I fumbled a little, but once the candles were lit I could see it was ready. Salt
poured in a circle, widdershins, as he’d commanded. As ‘his art did express’, I should say. I clutched the
dagger. The oracles, his anonymous servants, sat patiently and repeated the secret words for ‘this long night’s
festival’. Anything to see my love. Even this. Droplets of blood edged the blade.
His voice, in the gloom, was the same. ‘A quintessence even from nothingness’.
“You’re here?” I said, not knowing where to face in the smoke.
“For a little while,” and he was all around me.
“Are you in pain?”
“Only as much as I deserve.” His laugh ended in his old low rumble.
“When will be together?”
“They will bring you to me.” I looked at the oracles, still chanting but shook my head. ‘I…am the grave of all,
“Yes, but when? Soon?” I fought to stop from stamping my feet.
“Perhaps.” He felt close. Velvety shadows caressed me.
“That’s all I want. To be like we were. Wherever we are”. ‘To be two chaoses’ again.
“And we will be my little one. But for now, my Lucy, you are in the world and I …” his voice faded.
I opened my eyes. The circle was broken, and the shadows fled. Lurching for the door I ran until I was bent
double, breathless. Alone and still his. Always.
It was hard, learning to wait and cope with the light, which grew around me. ‘Oft a flood have we two wept’,
but this time there was no sadness. Through my streaming eyes, stung by the emerging dawn, I knew I was
‘re-begot, of absence, darkness, death—things which are not’. Of course we’d be in the dark again. We’re
beyond love. We’re the ‘things which are not’. I smiled. It wouldn’t, couldn’t be long. Oh my love, come high
water, hell and all that’s unholy.
Rebecca Dempsey is a Melbourne writer, mainly of short fiction and recently finished her first novella.
She has an MA in Writing and Literature from Deakin University.