Saturday, 2 January 2021

And pay no worship to the garish sun…

before the dawn
with thanks… to Barbara Aves (13 March 1936 to 21 December 2020)

the daws drive dark before the dawn;
gather for the final roost
     before the sun has chance to rise… –
no light today; just shadow… –
     mere shadow without end;
     sad margins robbed of symmetry.

     the daws I see
          from nowhere –
          out of nowhere –
          solemn airs
               gnarled within the gloom;
          carefree graces
               wrenched without the light.

     so many vanquished stars;
     so many stolen nightfalls;
          from nowhere –
          out of nowhere –
     the clouds I see
          astray, mislaid;
          minor keys unturned.

the silences, eclipses,
the nothings and the nowheres,
the shadows we are made of,
the dark we are afraid of… –
     all shaped the same
     but never visible… –
the daws drive dark before the final dawn.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

A long December…

It may be down to the fact that I’m listening to – no: immersed in – Counting Crows a lot, at the moment (a very extended moment that has been absorbing me for many, many days): but there seems to be a preternaturally large number of black birds flecking, piercing, spiralling, twisting and weaving the air, at the moment. (That phrase again.)

Thursday, 12 November 2020

The weight of this sad time we must obey…

I watch, and am become like a sparrow
That is alone upon the house-top.

– Psalm 102:7

It may have happened a million times. Or it may have happened just this once. Not that it matters. Not to me. Not really. But to the birds, almost certainly. Preeminently the lone shadow which still sings… – Shakespeare’s “substance of a grief” made manifest.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Unfinished sympathy…

Seven tsunamis of grief

The land is dry
And yet the waves come
Silenced as sun
And high as pain
Soundless to hide
Their beginning

The land is clear
And yet the waves come
Unmade as breath
And torn as faith
Formless to hide
Their fashioning

The land is deep
And yet the waves come
Ever as air
And light as flame
Weightless to hide
Their strengthening

The land is hard
And yet the waves come
Stoppered as wind
And brave as tree
Placeless to hide
Their happening

The land is high
And yet the waves come
Darkened as moon
And bright as night
Guiltless to hide
Their mastering

The land is walled
And yet the waves come
Driven as time
And forced as rain
Ceaseless to fault
Their bettering

The land is dust
And yet the waves come
Ravished as death
And barbed as life
Hopeless to hide
Their ending

Friday, 22 May 2020

Lockdown diary #5:
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving…

Peacefully, joint in sleep
To Eric Ward (10 March 1929 to 19 May 2020)

I know what it is to die
But not to know that you are dying –
As the breeze clears the hollow sky
Holding your faint, fading soul and fingers
Brushing my face as gently; as gently as
Odours of sage, marjoram and rosemary
Make hands of deep, supportful, lifelong love –
The draught yet unable to fill the emptiness
quarried sharp within my chest.

I know what it is to mourn
But not quite yet to be mourned –
Eight months of pain between our passings:
Mine resolved and out of mind; yours too soon:
Too soon a hand of sharp chalk shelling the blue –
So I take to bed to be with you: too early,
But peacefully, joint in sleep; mine too early:
Yours eternal; mine all too quick, all too quick;
and much too false, except in others’ hearts.

Such endings then should be writ loudly
Each letter screamed so ever deep and ragged –
New scars fresh pathways free forever to explore
Hard into your new hills as they forever grow:
Smoothing under the boots that took so many
To their better futures: taught so well; so well
That your remembrances now merge with theirs.
Proficiscere anima Christiana.
Proficiscere patrem meum.