Tomorrow comes. Somehow we are prepared.
Trees grow towards the light. Above the formless
deep the Spirit broods. At least we’re spared
anxiety – to think this way. At dawn
the blackbird sings. But often we can barely
see the line of waiting trees, nor sense
the hidden sun. What hope – when life unfairly
shifts? Our frailty is our one defense.
A feather is as light as air, and yet
it lifts a bird. The grip of winter fails
before the bud. A destiny is set.
A fleet of ships approaches in full sail.
The face I cannot see is like the one
beyond the trees, where day has just begun.
This afternoon a bird most beautiful
is singing in the springtime trees. The sounds
of turtledoves nearby disperse until
its notes remain like ringing bells. The ground
from which the trees emerge is bountiful,
the sky is clear, the sun has graced the air
with hope. The music is immeasurable
that sweetly flourishes above us there.
From spring to spring it sounds, alighting in
our time. A ray of sun at rest upon
the leaves is silently serene, and brings
us joy. But this serenity of song,
that bubbles up like water from a spring,
is token of a joy in everything.
I woke aware. I lay that morning in
another land. The summer sun had yet
to breach the window of the room. My fingers
felt the coolness of the dawn. The setting
stars delayed. Within I felt I was
a person other than I am – the noble
trunk of my identity, its lost
meridian displayed. Remarkable –
the person who inhabits I. A poise,
a serious intent, a strength unflinching –
this is what we are beyond the noise.
The spirit glides, wings folded like a finch.
A new ascendancy – as stars at night
replace the frail certainties of light.
I hesitate to speak of what is near,
an emptiness where meaning should be found,
within the veil the face has disappeared.
Above the distant hills a line of cloud,
transfigured in the light of afternoon,
appears suspended in the flow of time.
Inhabitants of distance seem to bloom
while imminence to winter has inclined.
St Patrick prayed for meaning all around –
before, behind, beneath, within – the Christ
enfolding everything. On holy ground
a prophet hides his face. The soul enticed
by desert finds Him there – in solitude
a flame, the ordinary things endued.
The photo shows you trying to shake his hand,
while he, with eyes elsewhere, has placed his hand
upon your head. You’re just a child, adorned
with markings of your tribe, while he, adorned
in suit and tie, is ruler of the land.
The privilege to which a man is born
determines much in this great southern land.
The scene was set before the child was born.
But privilege is more than suit and tie.
The colours of the earth upon his skin
remind us of the place to which we’re tied,
and that assize through which new worlds begin –
when You are seen in every human face
and dignity shines forth from every place.
A photo of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbot, with his hand on the head of an indigenous boy from Arnhem Land, as the boy, unnoticed, holds out his hand.
In darkness I can see divinity.
The star maps of the heart describe its rays.
Why close my eyes, when all around I see
the sparks of holy fire? The inner gaze
is insufficient – majesty is high.
In daylight’s visual poverty the soul
slowly expires. The universe is shy.
It is not wise to try to grasp it whole.
An advent in the shadows brings us simpler
times. Reality fragmented, every
seed alive. The cosmos has its wrinkles,
rippling through the sky. Peripheries
are where the truth must lie. My heart expands
to take in life, lying scattered here like sand.
In music the invisible is seen.
Emotion is abstracted, yet in that
more finely drawn. The place a heart has been,
remembered in a ritual, a fact
becoming form. Greek tragedy distilled
the human soul into a potency –
cathartic pain that makes the waters still.
In truth perceived we find serenity.
Beneath the earth a sapphire’s beauty dawns.
But music’s nearer air. Like clouds suspended,
human life appears in it reborn,
its sorrows in a lighter key. Attending
it, we grasp a greater harmony,
that links all life to what it is to be.
It’s there again, among the flowering trees.
Like spray from the resounding sea, we feel
it’s radiance. A song that none can see,
that like first love bears marks of the ideal.
It’s luminous and strong, affirming and
denying our brittle personality.
Through it we learn, as consciousness expands
in those brief moments, what it is to be.
It only comes this time of year, and though
the day is resonant, it disappears –
the silence, its true song. In ebb and flow,
the rhythm that identifies the years
is undulating in our souls. No words,
yet so much mystery in songs of birds.
On weekends, in the afternoon, the air
was filled with gentle music. Coming home
from war, my father had renounced despair
and chosen this sweet joy. The sounds intoned
by clarinet and strings awakened me
to things I did not know. The subtle sweep
of music’s holy time. Affirming, free,
an ordering of things that makes us weep.
Its task is an internal education,
helping us to know the river’s course,
teaching us the way of sublimation,
surrendering to life without remorse.
In gratitude for memory endued,
I offer this in memory of you.
Within the grass a thousand dandelions
had raised their graceful heads. Each one would bob
whenever breezes passed. It was not time
for their farewells. A blackbird sung a noble
tune. The sunlight, settled everywhere,
was in no hurry to depart. The shadows
marked the slow advance of time. A careless
wind toys with our destiny, we grow
aware. Like galaxies, whose stars are birthed
in spheres of burning light, the dandelions
appear as icons of the universe.
Each beautiful, according to their time.
The wind will blow, and each will disappear –
and each return again in the new year.
My silence, underneath this tree, is prayer.
You hear it. High above, two crows traverse
the limitless blue sky. This earth we share,
one biosphere in which we are immersed.
Where is heaven? What possessed you when
you prayed so long ago? Surely, knowledge
that the kingdom had come near. It bends
the world like wind. Its shoots appear. The solid
things melt in its heat. What did you say
on mountain tops surrounded by the stars?
Great silences inhabit us today.
The dream has passed. The crow calls from afar.
But this is home. Before the sun appears
the sound of singing fills our waking ears.
And now, at the renewal of all things,
it’s joy that is their substance and expression
of their form. It is as life begins
in spontaneity and innocence.
The lamb, however, bears its wounds – the marks
of former things miraculously enduring
in the dawn. It is as if the spark
of life initiates again – mature,
complete this time, the fruit instead of seed.
The bones that you have crushed, restored, awake
to shouts of joy, amazed at their reprieve.
A broken heart is never a mistake,
the cities walls are fashioned from such stones,
the residence of joy, and joy alone.
The incarnation – purest bloom amidst
a field of flowers. Somehow God inhabits
us. Unique among all that exists –
humanity. A template so elaborate,
sculptured by the infinite in time.
Eternity unto eternity –
you see with heaven’s eye. We only mime –
a clown’s impressions of your majesty,
a shadow that will die. The day’s horizon
features both the sunset and the dawn.
Our soul has intimations of the sky,
and discontent, until it is reborn,
looks out into the evening stretching far.
At night it blooms – the bright and morning star.
The earth’s in pain, besieged by Capital.
A slow attrition. Like a noose its power
grips the neck. All is expendable.
Relentlessly – a weed without a flower –
expanding into virgin territory.
Exploiting wealth indigenous – of people
and of place. Expropriated free.
Who can resist? Its influence the steeple
and the bank defend, the mighty set
against the suffering of the poor. Five hundred
years, its character unchanged. The best
of men subsumed. A crime. A fearful wonder.
For those who break its spell, a world repaired,
in time, the wealth of earth and nations shared.
An earth that slowly burns. Apocalypse
in present tense. The rich add wood to their
own funeral pier. Who hears the silent lips?
Who speaks for those we cannot hear? A tear
in human history, ripping future from
the past. Jehoiakim, while listening to
the prophet’s words – the fire burning long –
attacked them with his callous blade, and threw
the severed scroll in portions to the flames.
Assembled riders, horses white and fiery,
black and pale as death, await their names.
Whose voice will call them to invade? The sky
is blue. They answer to a voice below,
a generation here commanding – Go.
Let justice roll on like a river, never
ending may it stream. In broad headwaters
may its current swiftly save, deliver,
all the wrong sweep clean. In bricks and mortar
principalities and powers build
a cruel society – the face of God
on earth progressively laid waste. The guild
who privilege their own shall ride roughshod
the rest. Eternity will set things right.
But who can wait eternally – the pain
is now, injustice rules, no end in sight.
I hear the waters’ steady roar, a reign
of righteousness, a river none can cross,
arising where we thought all things were lost.
I lay down in the dust. Beginning there
so long ago, how far the stone was thrown.
I celebrate the stars in tangled hair,
prehistory recorded in our bones.
The dust has claims – our origin and end.
I feel the breath that animates my mind,
my heart, my soul, and like a reed I bend –
the wind that set eternity in time.
My face down-turned, I taste the earth, and let
its claim on me be once again renewed.
From dust we came, to dust, without regret,
we must return. Among the wheat that grew –
a single stalk, abundantly in seed,
victorious, though bending as a reed.
The spring has room for many birds. Today
another one appeared. I recognized
its song. Each is in flower. The singing stays
as long as blossoms. Many darting eyes.
A rich community. The avian.
The vegetation. Spring surprises me.
A multitude. A start. A year begun.
I feel the weightlessness of heavy trees.
The turtledoves. A wing that darts. The is.
The gentleness that is a mystery.
The hours that pass. The sun that is and with
us stays. The tabernacle housing me
in festival antipodean, with sky
its ceiling – wide enough for every why.