“To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1: 79, KJV)
What does it mean, Little Prince,
a beautiful occupation, one truly useful,
ephemeral–short lived like the light
of your lamplighter on his tiny planet,
room only for the street lamp he lights,
bringing a star to life: blink on, blink off, blink on . . .
like the Christmas Star of Bethlehem,
Jupiter and Saturn, two planets
named for man-made gods at war, except
for this night, their conjunction
the winter solstice, December 21, 2020,
the longest, darkest night of our dark year?
What does it mean to follow a star
positioned for a time sufficient for those
who look up past the ambulance,
gurneys delivering another round of
gasping-for-air fathers, mothers, children,
grandparents, and those accumulations
of castoff clothing swaddling people of
the streets collected crumpled on city sidewalks,
no silver bells announcing another angel
awarded wings, just another number
added to the 1,716,600* dead worldwide,
victims of Coronavirus, COVID-19,
each number a singular grief deeper than loss?
What Joy To The World? What good tidings
of great joy? Let it be the joy of lamplighters,
their solitary occupation on claustrophobic planets,
each one lifting with all their might
their small light against the darkness.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince, Harbrace Paperbound Library, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1943, pp. 57 and 59.
Updated December 23, 2020, 12:12 A.M. E.T.