Cecilia McDowall (b. 1951)

Advent in nineteen forty four came cold,
when Coutanche the Bailiff wrote a letter from the dark:

Message to the Protecting Power:
Essential drugs now exhausted.

Butter exhausted, soap exhausted.
No gas since September.

Electricity will fail mid-January
Wood inadequate. No matches

They waited for answers, for the seawash static
broken by song in the deep lake of war.

Then Vega, brightest star in the blackest night,
came through tides like a red-winged bird in flight
and with humanity towards peace shone light,
Vega, season’s star, angel in flight,
for what is Christmas without angels in the night?
For what is Epiphany but new hope’s light?

Seán Street (b. 1946)
Quotes from Baron Alexander Moncrieff Coutanche, Bailiff of Jersey, and the motto of the International Red Cross

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