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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive The Companionable Darkness

Friend and neighbor you have taken away.

My one companion is darkness.

-Psalm 88

The companionable dark

Of here and now,

seed lying dormant

in the earth. The dark

to which all lost things come—scarves

and rings and precious photographs, and

of course, our beloved

dead. The brooding dark,

our most vulnerable hours, limbs loose

in sleep, mouths agape.

The faithful dark,

where each door leads,

each one of us, alone.

The dark of God come close

as breath, our one companion

all the way through, the dark

of a needle's eye.

Not the easy dark

of dust and candles, but dark

from which comforts flee.

The deep down dark

of one by one,

dark of wind

and dust, dark in which stars burn.

The floodwater dark

of hope, Jesus in agony

in the garden, Esther pacing

her bitter palace. A dark

by which we see, dark like truth,

like flesh on bone:

Help me, who am alone,

And have no help but thee.

"The Companionable Dark" and "What Song, Then?" are from JOURNEY, by Kathleen Norris, copyright 2001. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburg Press.

Citation: Kathleen Norris, " The Companionable Darkness," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited April 2006]. Online:


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