Summer 2024

Night Vigil

By Rachel Lynne Sakashita

For years, the man and his oil lamp
have battled night’s brittle onset, silhouettes
breathing, ancient, damp, the flame glowing
itself yellow and white. The lamp sits prim
on the window sill after hours, when the man
is the only one awake in the household.

Sometimes, the man imagines noises.
He never dozes by the oil lamp, but when
he hears the footsteps, he straightens,
his hands crumpling unsent letters,
tired with time. When the footsteps fade away,
he accepts that they were his imagination.

Other times, when the flame flickers,
he checks to make sure there’s enough oil.
(There’s always enough oil.) He’s never
neglected it in all his years of tending
this one singular lamp. It was likely
just a breeze. A shadow. His own breath.

Tonight is so many nights gone by.
His back aches like he’s been hunched
there for centuries, and maybe he has been.
He props his arms on the sill. Beholds
the hope crackling against the night.
Waits for his son to come home.

About the Author

Rachel Lynne Sakashita is a blogger and transcultural ministry worker in Ithaca, NY. Her work can be found at The Clayjar Review, Theozine, and her brand-new Substack, Ewe and Shepherd. Follow her on Instagram at @abrightaubade.