The Early Days
Sonnets of Sky
The Early Days
The sun is
Dipping in the sea
It loves to bathe
Once a day
And does so all year long
As day ends you’ll find it there
Experiencing the ocean
Sometimes it takes a dive
That lasts from noon till evening
Which to us is slow
But to the sun is all it needs
To reach the cool water
The pale blue sky
The dark blue water
Twins who still like
Each other’s company
The great silence of the afternoon
From hill to hill
From bay to sky
The emptiness of slowly circling air
The clouds are lying in rows
On the lightest of mattresses
Taking an afternoon nap
The trees slowly dance to a minimal music
Of occasional insects and breeze
And the perfectly placed birdcall
Which having lost the spontaneity of dawn
Has the sure touch of experience
The silver leaves are now gold
But sometimes turn back to green
As the sun retreats behind a cloud
I flowered on the earth
For a short time
The season changed
The wind has come
A field of golden gums
The last testament of day
Night the great nothingness
A river of lights
On the motorway
None in the opaque sky
I am one of those
Lights on the motorway
Driving into night
Does day emerge from night or night from day
A long silence gives birth to life
And life is womb to eternity
Blackness becomes white
But white fades again into blackness
Are both separate worlds
A night lives and then withdraws as day comes
And day retreats before advancing night
When one is in the heart of either one can barely imagine the other
Such diverse beings inhabiting the same place
But at different times
Or are they two different worlds that we alternately travel into
The measurement of time in each is somehow different
The day’s timepiece is the sun
We quickly learn its language
But the night’s is far slower
And more mysterious
It has complex cycles of constellations
Often poorly perceived
And the slow motion shadow of the sun
Night takes its time
And gives it more generously
That’s why we can slow down and sleep
But at certain times of the day
Like mid afternoon when the sun seems to pause
And a silence comes over the land
Day shares more with its cousin night
As life at times does with its infinite double
I cannot be as you
Giving the morning dew
And night the star
And spring the flower
And every hour
The power to be
But can you be as I
My flesh is born to die
My light to be
The night my spring
The passing of
A shooting star
I cannot be as you
I give to men their due
And fight the star
Of Satan’s power
That every hour
Men cower before
But you can be as I
Searching the evening sky
To long till dawn
To find the one
Beyond the sun
I’ve come to be
Keeping vigil a
My eyes open to see the sky
A sunlit cloud is passing by
I close them now and see a night
Always with me but for sight
I look again the cloud is gone
A grey sky where the sun had shone
Is all that’s left but I continue
Lit by life in every sinew
A tree emerges from the earth
As does the grass
But light rests on a leaf upon the ground
From far away the clouds hang from the sky
And yellow wattle from the tree
And wind blows leaves and shadows
Later the trees sink in darkness as the sky flares
A blue window
Rimmed by white
A yellow flower
Emerging trunks with
Power like a whale’s
Tail have pushed out
Of the earth and grown
And grown in both
Height and girth
It is a slow motion
Slower than glaciers
But we can feel this
Before our eyes
What forces lie
In the ground
The earth’s upward power
Seeds become towers
Deserts a weight of flowers
The sky is heavy with stars
And two oceans meet
Two waves with the power
Of two oceans
And as they collide
The trees are covered
On the second day
Was separation and clarity
On the third day
Was distinction and fecundity
On the fourth day
Were seasons and galaxies
On the fifth day
Was water and flight
On the sixth day
Was a mirror of light
The clouds move in a polyphony
Like a sixteenth century master
Would have composed
High and exalted and
Full of light
The softest and lightest is above
While my feet keep falling to the earth
A shadow lies weightless on the road
While the tree’s boughs spread out into the sky
The world is a cup half full
One half empty with sky
The queen bee rests in the centre of the hive
As a thousand workers pass by her
Are like tiny clouds
The lattice of shadows
On the front steps
Is as old as the world
Of places in the universe
Why are we given a
Perspective of blue
A heavier cloud rolls past
A galleon amongst the
The galleon was intent on war
It let out a broadside of
A wall of light
I walk beside
A wall of night
A wall of night
I walk beside
A wall of light
The cloud of night
Has crossed the day
I cannot say
What might have been
What might have been
I cannot say
The face of night
Has crossed today
The clouds all softly
Travel through the air
Towards the hills and
Take little time to reach
Them before the sky
Turns red and they
Trails of fire
Till night has
A lone tree silhouetted by sky
Its silver leaves blown in the wind
Are sparkling the distant clouds
Begin to shine as the sun approaches
Its destiny as all living things sweep
To the west to be surrounded by the
Upsurge of light that marks the coming
Of night and lines of trees stand silent
Beside the darkening road
Man came after
The light was here
And the sea and sky
And stars and moon
And fish and birds
Seventh day is his
Was there before
All other things
But our minds
They leap through
Time and space
To try to take the
Measure of before
And after and sound
One by one the candles were extinguished
Like the breathe of the choristers completing
Each measure as the music burnt down like a
And the clouds disappeared
And the day disappeared
And what had begun sank into the hills
Sonnets of Sky
The tide of day began to turn again
as light desired to seek its distant home,
to farewell honour and embrace the shame,
the price of finding what is once had known
beyond the gates of day. And now the west
is glowing as the sun returns to claim
a glory known before the dawn possessed
the day. I too am searching for the rain
that fell when long ago I knew the power
of Christ enlivening me throughout my frame,
and nothing seemed impossible, as showers
of greatness fell – his life was in my grain,
and even night was filled with light, and day
was found in darkness when I knew this way.
The distant hills are covered by the sun
as day begins, the fields are white with frost.
Who can conceive what will be when you come
or understand the depth of what is lost
when light reveals all things for what they are?
And so what might have been becomes the shadow
of what is, forever like a star,
a testament to how all life could flow
if we had let the torrents of your love
spread out into each valley here on earth.
What’s done is done; and now the sun above
the fields is thawing out the grass; new birth
of day is welcomed by a singing bird,
and what is lost forgotten in what’s heard.
The angle of the sun upon the glass
inclines towards the sky. The light’s beginnings
in a room embraced with warmth soon pass.
When winter wanes and in its place the spring
appears, we all rejoice, and radiance
is in the trees. But soon the seasons turn
and summer waves break on the shores that once
had welcomed spring. Born into love we learn
that its embrace is not always what we
experience here. But still its light is in
our room, and by its rising sun we see
a beauty in all things. A place within
the soul is lit and, as the day descends,
again this love will find us at our end.
The light of the seven bright candles was shining, and near
it, new heaven and earth. It lit up the sky and the trees
and the fields rejoiced as it shone on the earth. To be
where it shines is fullness of joy. Completeness is here
in its light. We look through our tears, O where is the place
to see its radiance now? Here darkness is law,
and suffering marks the lives of the rich and the poor.
And near us the sounds of grief can be heard, and faces
are mirrors of sorrow. The candle still shines, its branches
stretch out in the sky. And every day a new light
is seen, arising where darkness once reigned. It’s right
to be glad. We see only part, there’s seven wide branches
that burn. A light that is greater than sight will come soon –
in this sky the whole tree will come into bloom.
The flow of water underground is music
to my mind as walking by I hear it
on a sunny day. What cloud filled skies
had gifted it to flow here in a drain
that takes the water back to sea and thence
to start again, in cycles with beginnings
but no end? Beneath our feet the waters
flow – beneath our lives a river that
began when life began on earth and flows
until its end. And my life too is in
in hearing of this water flowing fast
beneath my feet, that rushing to its distant
home and rising up in clouds, will be
the sunlit path on which he walks with me.
Today I found a gold coin by my door
as dew began to melt upon the grass.
I reached to touch it on the wooden floor
and found the coin had travelled through the glass
from heights above, the window pane unshattered
by the force that sent the coin from heaven
to the earth. For here – the uncreated
light that fell upon the world unbidden,
when the risen Lord of glory took
his throne and asked the Father of the lights
to share his gifts with us, and thresholds shook
and every heart who saw was turned from night
to brightest day – this sunbeam in my room,
is coinage of a day that’s coming soon.
When banks of cloud traverse the evening sky,
all rolling like a river to the sea,
they hold their course as light begins to die,
while knowing that each one no more will be.
Man meets his end in many different ways,
and hills and fields are cluttered with his tombs,
in each a life that once was here to stay
until the river’s flood broke in its room
and lifted it upon the silent wave
that bring all men to foreign shores, they know
perhaps in dreams. It only is the bravest
ones who calmly, like the clouds that grow
in power in eastern air while floating on
the breezes, enter where the light has gone.
As mountains can be seen upon the moon
from which to view the floating globe of earth,
the mountains here are sites to view the moon
which floats above the world that gave it birth.
Does distance make our hearts grow fond of hills
and sky, a presence that’s beyond our reach,
the simple forms of peaks and clouds that fill
our line of sight, like waves upon a beach
whose sound is soothing to our minds, a sign
of unseen hands that move the universe?
No viewing of the moon through mountain pines
compares to seeing the priceless sphere of earth
above the lunar hills, blue watered, living home
of all that we hold dear, our flesh and bone.
Today I woke before the dawn, and rose
to see the desert sky, all white with stars.
I walked for miles, and prayed, like him who chose
in ancient times to wander where the far
off stars were near. Here in the everlasting
night the day is a forgotten world.
I walk awake in realms of dreams where, growing
in the blackened soil where light is curled
in galaxies of fire, and tendrils of
the starry vines extend towards the darkness
on the road, all prayers are dreams because
all other words are words of day. Awake,
I dream this day before it comes to be;
asleep, I find the one that once was me.
When we all go to sleep the moon awakes,
with silent steps it prowls around our garden.
The stars are witness to its light that rakes
the fallen leaves in search of something hidden.
It is the sun that through the day had watched
our passing world, and could not find the heart
of it; so now it sends the moon to search,
perhaps to find while we’re asleep, the secret.
The eye of God in conscious man is hindered.
It needs the night to search for us, to find
us in our dreams. O love that came and searched
for me, I welcome your bright eye; my mind
lies still between the trees, walk here, uncover
all the leaves and find your hidden treasure.
Upon antipodean shores I write
in words that formerly were found in mouths
of kings, but long migration, like a bird
that flies the length of seas, has brought them to
this foreign land to find a place to nest.
Its ancient rocks are full of words, its sky
is full of stars that for a million years
have watched the seasons change in cycles
of a different time. I write now in
my mother tongue and listen to the cries
of birds and watch the sun sweep through the sky
and let the million years of life and times
more ancient than the earth inscribe my waking
mind with words to speak its loneliness.
The blue sky and the yellow sun were partners
in the day. Assisted by ten thousand
clouds, each one as white as snow, they garner
light and distribute it to the lands
below, a jubilee of radiance
we witness day by day. At night the sky
escorts the stars into a courtly dance
that circles long in complex turns that try
the skill of all. The moon appears, the quiet
one, alone, from neighbouring rooms, and makes
his entry cautiously, each step with silent
grace, until, all ravished by his wake
of glorious beams, we watch the lights spin
round and round this curious world we’re in.
The passage of the clouds across the sky
is like a mighty fleet of ships in sail,
triumphant on the sea, their banners high
upon their masts, their hulls like gleaming mail.
No one can know their destiny or whence
they came. Their stately presence in the blue,
above them and below, is evidence
of things unseen, a world whose silent hue
is painted in the atmosphere that daily
all men breathe, a world of triumphs and
defeats that measure those on earth, for tiny
movements of that air can turn to sand
the castles made by boastful human hands,
and rainy skies make deserts fruitful lands.
Across the page the sonnet moves then down
a line. It flows there like a broad old stream,
meandering, accustomed to the sound
of thoughts that pass between its banks. So dreams
have found in human minds the place to rest
their wings, and like a swan upon a lake
they follow currents eddying there, a nest
of water far from home, and then take wing
and fly, the deeper currents of the air
soon take their soaring forms to where the clouds
all silently are drifting by. Despairing –
words are only words and dreams like clods
of earth within our minds will never sing –
departs when we can hear their music ring.
Upon the lake the first calls of the birds
emerged from darkness. Standing near I listened
to the sounds of dawn – for few have heard
such music by a lake where night still glistened.
I could not see their shapes behind the reeds
but knew they saw a world I longed to see.
Their haunting songs expressed to me my need
and called me to a place where I would be
as still as they, and faithful too, to wait
for birth of day. For thirty years I’ve kept
a memory of the morning light that breaks
before the dawn, awake as night still slept –
the sounds of day before it comes to be,
the songs of birds upon an inland sea.
I look far out to sea where waves conceived
in storms begin their marathon, each sweeping
to the distant shores, from which they leave,
returning to their origin of weeping
sky. The coasts they visit, weathered by
their countless multitudes, like heaven’s halls
by sounds of praise, familiar with the cry
of surf, are temples filled with mighty calls.
I wonder as I view the sea about
another storm, conceived by man, that sends
its waves towards the shore, but who can shout
to silence it, a storm we all defend,
made from our long neglect of all that’s good –
the world, its rhythms, humbly understood.
I stand here in the centre of a field.
Above me in the centre of the sky
the sun is there, another I I feel
I am an echo of. Or is the I
a more pervasive term, the language of
our consciousness, the single eye through which
the universe is seen? Here all that was
is new in individual view. How rich
a thing we share with whales and dolphins, cows
and bees! I do not think the sun can think,
but when I see its sphere, its unique power
that reigns alone upon the air, I drink
another consciousness from which I come,
and every other mind beneath the sun.
A flock of cockatoos is flying, sunlit
wings are flickering, a single motion
like a school of fish that are as one.
To empathize is built within. We know
that dogs are not our kin yet they will often
yawn in harmony with us, and geese
in straight formation fly, each knowing when
to flap their wings together in the breeze.
How is it then that men deny this gene
that carries us like rivers to the sea –
a single mind, an effortless regime
of common purpose? May we come to be
united, as when cockatoos in flight,
in sympathy, as one, are drenched in light.
The city’s streets were paved with purest gold,
translucent in the light of seven suns.
But here the heart is black as it is old –
redemption’s work has only just begun.
At evening all the circling stars appear,
the rising moon in ghostly splendour shines –
so darkness has foreshadows of the years
of light, that only humbled hearts can find.
The time has come to learn the ways of day
before the day begins, and let the sight
of heaven waken us – redemption’s rays
that penetrate the dark. The heart may fight –
for ancient powers grasp humanity –
as light keeps shining from the golden city.
I’m tired now. I’ve wrestled with my poems
all the day, and now a sleep would do
me good. But still the music of these rhymes
is echoing in my head. I should be through –
another seed has broken in my mind –
I start again to see what it may be –
And so another tree, alike in kind
to those before; but always hopeful, free
and awed, to let the meaning slowly rise
from soil within to light outside, I smell
the scent of new formed leaves, and note the size
of swaying boughs, and soon the story tell
of how our God created being, that swiftly
seeds of heaven grow into a tree.
I waste your time and waste your space, I said
to God one day. He said to me, look at
the tree that’s growing in the field. I fed
it with the sun and rain, its soil is fat
with life, its boughs are strong, above,
its canopy is glistening in the air.
A tiny seed borne by the wind, in love,
began it there, and watch – without a care
the tree is giving life – a million seeds
that grew within are pouring from its flowers.
O see the love I have for it, its needs
are met, I pour on it my showers,
that life began may carry on, and he
I bless should blessing be eternally.
I lie here in this silent room, outside
the dawn is coming soon, and in the silence
birds begin to sing. And if I died,
and lay as still inside my tomb, this sense
of God here with me, would be there. The one
here now transcends all time; his thoughts have entered
into mine – for when he came the day begun –
humanity, his silent room, his centre
now till every lonely tomb in which
he lies is witness to the singing birds.
And so I welcome this new day, so rich
in him who with me lay, whose voice I’ve heard
today in birds, whose song outside I find
is joined by these thoughts singing in my mind.
The sun surrounded by six clouds is hanging
on a stalk; three other suns are near,
a tiny galaxy amongst the swaying
green. What planets circle near? I fear
they may be none, for like the great expanse
whose every space seems filled with sparkling suns,
the planets there are few compared to this.
And even then to find a circling one
where signs of life are in its atmosphere
is like the search for green in barren desert
lands. The beauty of these flowers here
that glow above the vase, four suns alert
upon their stalks, with petals soft as clouds,
is all I need and all I am allowed.
A gate is blowing in the wind and clouds
are rolling by. My garden hosts the winter
sun, whose silent feet the shadows shroud
at times this afternoon. I feel warmth enter
then depart, then enter in again,
as blades of grass stand shivering, a nearby
palm tree quivering, and high, the rain
clouds drawing nearer in the darkening sky.
A distant cloud that caught the sun releases
it again, its healing rays make every leaf
a glistening green. What life exists as ceaseless
as the sun? We leave, it seems as briefly
here as grass that basks beneath the sun,
and shivers when the winter clouds have come.
A tower of loneliness, this mountain peak
immersed in cloud; a shrouded mystery
emerging from the earth below, that speaks
the mystery of being. All comes to be
and is as this. We rest upon a hidden
realm like swans upon a lake, their bended
necks obeying the opaque depths. Unbidden,
things have come to be; they have no end.
A mirror can reflect a face, the person
seen continues down the hall. I pass,
but being, like ripples in a pond that race
towards the edge, continues. Ships have masts
to carry sails, the peaks in cloud are gliding
things, like swans about to lift their wings
It’s prophesied. His flaming eyes shall light
the skies and bring renewal to the earth.
A Lamb was seen as in a dream, his mighty
power in seven horns. Those near cried worthy,
and began a song as new as morning.
Now as thousands sang the heavens rang
and all who heard were filled with joy. I sing
here too; he came as dew – all being began
to be again when God’s own Son had shed
his blood and risen high had filled the sky,
with seven horns like crowns upon his head,
and seven eyes, each like a sun that flies
above the clouds and makes creation green –
the Spirit pours out from these eyes, unseen.
Some mornings are without the birds, we wake
as day begins and note an emptiness.
The night, which left before the day, has taken
all our joy away. But hearts from rest
are meant to sing. Has night the right to keep
the heritage of dawn? The stars already
own our winter, weeping in the deep
above with silent tears eternally.
But we are people of the light, who rise
from sleep to welcome the new day, and open
eyed survey the depth of summer skies.
Night – you have your emptiness – I owe
no due to you. The heritage of dawn
is mine to freely give this lovely morning.
I cannot speak of love to you today
because my love has drifted like a cloud
to other lands. I said my love would stay
here anchored like a ship, but look, I’ve found
the winds have blown it far away. Reverse
the winds – the skies are yours – may you
command the breeze, and let this cloud outburst
and fall as rain where once my love was new,
and make a paradise where desert is.
You hold the anchor of my heart, I cannot
drift away, for I recall your kiss
that pulls at my desires. So I can
be as steadfast as your love for me – my heart,
your anchor, holds. How can we ever part?
A tree marks life, its circles within circles
are memorials of time, internal
orbits of the sun, a chronicle
of storms and heat, the passions of external
things, recorded in its living being.
The night is marked by rings of fire, signs
of ancient times, whose history is seen
long after stars have passed to dust. My
past is written in my genes, a spiral
history of my family and of man.
The circles within circles of the tides
of time were written before time began –
the prophet saw them in the sky, the tree
rings of the world the universe will be.
The light is fading on the wick, the candle
setting like the sun. The golden flower
dipped its head, and sank as time ran out
into the sea, and light returned that hour
to where it comes from. I think, where is
the home of light? It disappears from sight.
I see the wick has sunk into the wax –
but light had always risen in the night.
I sometimes fear the hour of my death.
I wonder – does my living flame arise
and disappear into the night as breathe
returning to the air? Windswept skies
are bright as they are clear, a pure blue,
the light is everywhere, so all is true.
And so my thoughts all slowly rise as from
a distant valley where the smoke ascends.
A glorious blue sky is there, a common
sight; below, the open fields where men
are burning off. The smoke is pluming in the
air above the smouldering fires, men
stand near and tend the burning centre.
But from here I only see the pensive
incense of each fire arising like an
offering to the sky. In deep green forests
near a thousand trees are drinking
air and growing. So the thinking hearts
of men, that drink their days of light,
ascend again as smoke before the night.
The sun hung from the ceiling and the room
was blue, a wooden table set with silver
leaves and river glasses poured, the moon
the unlit candle – all prepared to give her
guests the welcome of her home. We sit
and eat and share her view – the curtain pulled
aside – the lights of fireflies that glisten
there outside. We cannot hope, until
the world has hastened to its end, to find
a host as kind and good – the furnishings
of precious wood, the water poured through finest
sand, a candle never lit by man;
these are the blessings of her home, our host,
with earth and sun and sky – the Holy Ghost.
At the creation of the world the sun
and moon were set in place, the greater light
to rule the day, the lesser light the night;
and this was all before our time began.
A tree has circles in its trunk the sun
and moon have set in place, the passing years
and times have their memorial circling there;
and this was all before our time began.
And when the earth the sixth time faced the sun
a tree of life, ringed by eternal time,
a branch produced – that branch is mine, and this
was when our time began, and man the son
of God, upon a branch of darkest wood
our destiny and his, we understood.
Three thousand years between your birth and mine.
I stand here in the place where you began,
and see the moon that measures all that time
has measured here, Jerusalem.
Men’s lives have passed you in its ancient stream,
the kingdoms of this world have come and gone,
yet like the moon that wanes, as in a dream
you are reborn and wax again. The sun
is ruler of the day and night – men’s chance
of life that never can return; the moon,
however, constantly renews, a dance
of mystery – the one whose open tomb
is witness: rocks may hold your ancient dead,
beneath the moon they’ll rise from stony beds.
Stars never take the road of suffering.
They sparkle without hearts and view a world
of sorrow unmoved. The Good Samaritan
who saw a broken man beside the road
at once crossed over, changing all his plans
to be with him. But not the stars, their courses
in the sky were set before our cries of need,
and nothing moves them from their path.
But when a man is full of tears, or child
afraid, to see them sparkling in the sky,
and wonder at their glorious light and note
their constancy, gives heart to man and quiets
children’s tears – up above the world
so high, like a diamond in the sky.
How beautiful you were the day I saw you,
sitting on a table, swinging your long
legs. You didn’t know what lay before you
as the world swung round the sun. The song
of birds that welcomes day and without sorrow
greets the night was yours to sing; and like
the bells refract the ocean’s call of sorrow,
formed anew in sounds of joy and light,
you heard the music of the heart and sought
to make it bright. How beautiful you are
to me – the song of birds at dawn I sought,
the cry of gulls that seek the sea. The star
at night, the sun by day, accompany
the life that you and I together see.
I cannot hold the water in my hands.
It pours and pours through gaps between my fingers.
And when I think its flow will cease, as sand
contains the ocean’s power that quenched still lingers
at the shore, the water pours again
down from the sky. What is this motion in our
hearts that causes love? Is it the same
reaction that empowers the sun, whose flower
of heat and light has shone on everything?
O holy love within a star, that turns
existence into gold, empowers the flowering
of the world and warms the coldest bones –
I cannot hold you in my hands, O pour
and pour and pour through open doors.
The buoyant air keeps lifting us, and lifted
up we feel it lifting everywhere
to be another place, a different place
than that is was before it felt the air.
An ocean deep keeps drawing us, and drawing
us it seeks to draw all human life
into its depths, an ocean deep of love
where we have ceased to be as once we were.
And all the sky is calling me, and hearing
it I feel its beauty near, the beauty
of the buoyant air, the air around
me everywhere that wants me to be me,
but lifted to another place, to be
another, like a seed becomes a tree.
I hear a dove. Its call is clear at this
time in the afternoon. Above, the sun
descends so slowly. Those who hear must listen
well to know what it is saying – One
sun is floating in the air, I sing
to it without a care although I know
the evening air is flowing. Shadows resting
on the wall advance as silent snow
that falls without our knowing. Quickly children
come from school to play and watch the sinking
day with eyes as bright as doves, all filled
with shear delight that happiness should ring
each day with afternoons so light that suns
could float above the trees as night began.
I sat beneath the blackened sky where all
that is will cease, where even stars descend
within. I contemplate the night that falls,
and like a hand, erases all, that tends
the fire of our destruction. Black was there
before our birth and black remains to meet us.
Some fish break the waves and fly through air
above the ocean. Falling back, they sleep
again beneath the surface deep within,
their flight a distant dream. Is all the air
we breathe like this, a sky that’s paper thin,
a blue mirage that even stars are careful
not to lift from us? They say that night
is day and darkness light before your sight.
Across the lake the distant lights of houses,
nestled close to shore, began to shine.
The lake itself had been a mirror housing
day within its silver water, shining
presence of the sky both far and near.
But now the houses have their turn to host
the silence that the purity of night
provides to all; for here the simplest boast,
the simplest houses shine the most, their single
light an image of the sun. The distant
sight of single lights, each nestled, mingled
by the lake, evokes a truth so distant
from our lives. The stillest lake contains
the day, a simple heart a sun sustains.
Two faces are to me my richest treasure –
the face of sky, the face of women. In one
I see the other. A woman’s face contains
the day, a woman’s face contains the night.
And strangely in the changing sky, in blue
and white, and glistening night, I see a woman’s
face. I travel in the early morning.
I find my eyes are drawn to see the sky.
The perfect blue beneath the clouds, so soft
its hue, a colour that words can’t describe.
And this is what I strangely see in women
here beneath that sea. I think that my
first sight on earth has mingled with the sky
and see the face of love within her eyes.
We live on the shores of a sea so great and vast.
Today I sit with a friend in a café outside.
It overlooks the sea. We sit at a table,
sip coffee and talk, and the ocean is there before us.
The water is pure and soft, stretching so far in the
distance. A gentle wind blows and our faces are touched
by the sunshine. How many days could we sit here and talk,
or just silently take in the ocean? Around us are people,
busy with work, a young man is hurrying past
with a trolley, so healthy and strong with a spring in his step.
And who cannot notice the sea? Its presence is here
everywhere. It’s here in the air. In fact, the air is
part of the sea. For the sea is the air, the sky all
around, the kingdom of heaven we see.
I will return to where I once began
to welcome dawn before the dawn began,
to see a sky within. The sky was light
far east of here where God began to shine.
Before the dawn was when I once began
to welcome day before the day began,
to see a light within. The sky was bright
far east of there when God began to shine.
Within my room as day begins I sing
to light of day, for I have heard a singing,
dawning deep within. The sky was night
far west of there, for God had ceased to shine,
and all was silent on the earth, when He
who gave all things their birth had ceased to be.
Two white birds traverse the sky from west to east.
The half moon slowly follows them. And everything is
travelling round the sun that is within the sky they
travel in. I walk across the grass from west
to east, and then return and watch a single silent
plane flying near the moon until the moment
it is gone and only blue is there. And then
I watch as two white clouds are blown by wind, and see
them slowly swallowed by the air. A pine tree near
is swaying, its leaves are washed by light. Existence is
what is in the blue air. The canopies of gums
are tossed, a swallow darts, all shiver in the wind.
The sky is one, it has no end, I cannot find
where it began, and I am lost within its blue.
And All I Am
And all I am is pouring out to sea,
into the sea above the earth, where clouds
are waves, and I the sun that’s drifting in the
sea. And all the sea is drifting to
the sun, the eye in which the sea began –
the consciousness of living things – that floats
with other boats into a sea where every
eye is drifting in the infinite sky
of stars adrift upon eternity.
Onions are amazing things – rings
enclosed by rings within a sphere, and so
it is – the day rings night and even death,
enclosing life, is ringed again with light.
You ask from where do onions spring? Where they
begin is in the dark, beneath the surface
of the world. And there they grow, while high
above their tall leaves reach into the blue.
Each journey to the sky creates a ring
that circles round the ring that was before.
My history is rings enclosing rings,
and yours, and the whole universe, where sun
and stars and light and dark all circle round
the flaming heart that reaches into all.
How can a face migrate – for sometimes I
can see a face I knew now in another.
Is this one way a family line
remains? A sea of time may separate
but genes dictate a likeness stays. And now
I see your face in mine. Your face becomes
a frame of me, and mine where your identity
is hanging on the wall. For this
is what two people know when love begins a
line that branches from the one
great human tree. But still it is a great
surprise to see someone in other’s eyes,
and find the face of God is mirrored there,
and every I is seen in every you.
When I began to love you, you were barely born,
a tiny face appearing where no face had been.
How can it be, your life is here in this new morning’s
light, when yesterday no one could be seen?
I’ve seen the silver leaves all glistening in the light,
I’ve heard the blackbird singing, calling in the spring.
What was not, now my sunshine here, is what this night
has given me – the light of day, this little thing.
And when my days are fading like the evening light,
your orbit of the sun, begun well after mine
will be your joy, and other’s too will you delight.
For every face that turns towards your sun will find
a gentle light is falling on their mind
from your identity, so true and kind.
And when a candle sinks towards its home
and when its light ascends into the air,
the radiance of being is sometimes shown
and common things become so very rare.
A glory, like a glint seen in the eye
or smile that flashed across a face, is always
there for those who’ll learn to recognise
its face and grow familiar with its ways.
And being can also slowly come to mind
in things we treasure; light may silently
arise, like faces known, that with us shine
with love, for though familiar, history
has brought an empathy, as in a candle’s
sinking light we see a face that’s bright.
I see a radiance everywhere in things that are,
a wind arising from their heart that terrifies.
Who made this world, simplicity that’s like a star
that shines in brief eternity in darkened sky?
I fear the One who said infinity would dwell
within a seed, and made a forest sing with trees
outstretched across the ages of the earth. A shell
that’s found upon the sand contains the open sea.
My hand has patterns of the mind, a wide expanse
of thoughts upon a journey to their destiny;
and in your palms the plans of God, engraved by man
with murderous hands, were all fulfilled; and from that tree
I hear the winds of heaven. Of winds that blow within,
without, that cross the sea, that call to me, I sing.
My days all float on days, an outstretched lake
where water birds alight. And in the lake
I see the sky. The birds make journeys to
and from these mirror worlds. On one they float,
on one they fly. I also travel in
these worlds. In one I live, in one I die.
And like the water birds I too have wings.
Sometimes when I see the mountains sleeping
in the lake, I think I should depart
from here and fly into the sky. Accept
my wings are only dreams, the mountains reached
are only those reflected. Like a swan,
content for now, I look within the water;
watching it, she waits, its loyal daughter.
When you were born I thought about the bells.
They ring on special days, on marriages
and deaths, and weekly for the resurrection.
They ring in cycles of the mind, in slow
unfolding patterns, where each bell, a number
in a chain, is moved in shifting sequence
till it finds its place again, to settle
at the end where it began. At times
our life is like a cork that bobs upon
the sea, and days appear as numbered strokes
of nameless destiny. But in the music
of the bells we hear another sound –
of numbers settling into ceaseless praise,
and sweetness rising up to fill our days.
Birds return the day to its beginning.
Their singing fills the emptying trees. Light
that fell for hours past is lifting from
the ground, the gravity that kept it there
is weakening. As flames ascend then disappear,
vanished from our sight, the gathered
birds are witness to that holy moment
as the light departs. The day had travelled
from so far; to see its end upon these
hills, a place from which it never will
return, has caused them all to sing a requiem.
Lux Aeterna. Light returning,
shining on its home, surrounded, welcomed
by the stars awaiting in their tombs.
One gum tree on a hill next to a road,
it’s mostly dead although some leaves are there.
It measured time, its shadow always showed
the passing of the light through the pure air.
The tree has stood there for a hundred years,
a second hand of an eternal clock.
It soon will fall to mark what we should fear,
the passing of the light upon a rock.
Is time alone the measurement it keeps,
lonely on a hill accept for sky?
A hundred epic cycles in it sleep,
written in a soul that unseen flies
to reach towards a meaning yet untold,
the measurement of things beyond this world.
Time is made of shadows upon shadows,
a darkness, thick and deep, through which we age.
One layer folds upon another, flowing
as deep curtains drawn across a stage.
A rose has many petals, overlapped
in swirling curves, they grow around a centre
hid within, like flames of dawn. Perhaps
all time is centred, and we have entered
within these walls. Our memories are veiled
in silence, a translucent screen, and time’s
thick darkness takes our presence, so to shade
us in a dream. Eternity is its fine
centre, wrapped in petals’ deepest red,
all life is found within it, where it bled.
A stone falls in a pond, the ripples carry
echoes of that moment to the rim
in circle after circle, marrying
origin to end. At the beginning
of the universe, when time and space
were one, a moment birthed the multitude
of things, expanding in concentric arcs
of power. So the world has been renewed,
the face of time pierced by the One. His sign –
a cross, an empty tomb, a hurricane
within a room – we feel it realign
our inner being. What was, ever the same
shall be, the centre of eternity,
has reached our shore like ripples on the sea.
The trees are lifting from the world, so softly
growing there, upon a rise of land.
Their silver shapes with sky behind them often
speak. Their languages are slowly formed,
each individual, although they share
a common root. I listen to their ancient
tongue, which like Chinese, has pictures where
a stroke would be, a landscape’s essence painted
in a word. But here the words are in the
breeze, the letters formed by trees have risen
in a gentle flight, moved by the thinnest
air. The passing time, the days unbidden
given there, the circling life from root
to leaf and sun to earth, all upwards shoot.
The night is a consuming fire, refining
days that pass in search of purer gold.
As evening falls the silent earth, still shining
from the sun’s embrace, is grasped by oldest
hands of all – the hands of night – and thrown
into the blackest flames. All that we knew,
familiar things we treasured – all are on loan,
the darkness flares, consuming all. Few
welcome night’s embrace – those burnt by light,
those weary of the hours that stretch between a birth
and death – but from this furnace far from sight
the tested heart, knowing now the worth
of what it served by day, refined by night’s
clear purity, emerges chastened and bright.
Time stood still, the world had ceased to be;
the consciousness of two became as one,
a mystery unveiled, humanity,
two separate beings, united as one sun.
Our world is one of singularity,
we see from a perspective like the sun,
except that sun’s perspective is entirely
that of me – since the I began.
The sky is thin around the world, the coming
of the night is all it takes for stars
to be, and in the moment two are one,
the unity of I is cracked, and far
above the sun is bright, for we who entered
night are light, and all we are, is centred.
A dog barks at the moon. He lifts his head
and howls with the intensity of night.
What strength is in his paws? What force has led
him, from within, to cry towards the light?
Upon this night a cycle is concluded.
The moon has risen from the dead – three days
it spent in darkness. Wakened from its lunar
night, it slowly fills again with praise
until the sky is brightened by its rays.
And here on earth the ocean tides grow stronger
by the hour, and madmen feel their souls
are pulled as in a river. Suffering long,
the earth lets out a cry, the power of
auspicious hours, expressed by howling dogs.
And when I see a curtain fall, and night
has come, concluding all, I wonder, how
will I depart the day? When we delight
in human things – the sight of objects now
in view, to touch what’s here inside our room,
to feel the sun upon our face – these things
belong to all of us. From birth we soon
can see the purity with which they sing.
And as things end simplicity again
is near, the world seen in our human sphere
which no one ever leaves, and in our pain
to say farewell we treasure what is here.
And night concludes the play, and tears like rain
fall on this day that no one could explain.
What is this thing I feel that causes me
to sing, and sometimes sends a living shoot
of power from within? I see the blossoms
on a tree, is this same force at work
in me? The love that moves the sun and other
stars. A sprig of it there within
my bowels! A leaf of green that spring has brought
and tender rain and light have taught to flourish
there. For feeling’s home is deep within,
and in the darkness of our souls the truth
begins to sing – our God is light, no darkness
dwells within his soul, there light and love
are lovers evermore – which like a seed
borne by the wind takes root within our need.
Above the hills the clouds are like a patterned
tablecloth that’s shining in the dark,
a tessellated pavement, glowing satin
in the dawn. The hills are in an arc
to hold the light. A tablecloth is set
on summer days for special gatherings;
the pavement is a path that’s laid for greeting
welcome guests upon; the arc a ring
that’s only seen in part, upon the finger
of the day, that marries light to us.
Above the distant hills in clouds that linger
there – the pavement of the morning rushing
through the air – I see a brightness resting
on a table set for many guests.
On bright days, when the air is still, the ocean
is so clear that we can see within.
There’s little fish and seaweed in slow motion,
bright anemones upon the sea floor.
Above us, in the clear night sky, are stars
in depths, that if our eyes were capable,
we all would see – the galaxies that far
in blackness swirl, the hosts of stars all nobly
formed, the shapes and wonders on the night’s
deep sandy floor. O God, you live in hidden
realms where angels whirl, your eyes like lightening
brighten every world, may you look in
the depths of me and shine upon this golden
floor that I your wonders may behold.
Is life a mirror of itself? Beginning
in simplicity it rises like a
bird in flight, surveys the world, and turning,
flies into simplicity of night.
Before we were the world was as it is,
the sea and clouds and stars and hills where there,
and when we go they will be still. I listen
to the wind, invisible as air
to all who see. It blows from here to there
and there to here. It drops and then it lifts
again, so unpredictable. But here
my life a mirror is, I once exist,
I once did not, and so my life returns,
I once exist and then I don’t, I learn.
Emotions are the strangest things, they burn
us like a fire. Some last for days like soaking
rain, and some are fields of flowers. They turn
as swift as wind, and are as words unspoken –
silent in the air around, but real
as day and night within our bones. We sail
upon a glorious sea, adrift in feeling.
Who can show us the way home, we fail
to see it here? In passion we are not
alone, emotion is eternal. God
is moved by love – a loving world cannot
but be. A tide had been released, why should
we not feel? Carried on infinite waves,
to know and feel and be as love behaves.
Wonderful openness is in the human
form, it stands to greet the world, it welcomes
all before it, looking out upon
a landscape, arms free by the side, the ground
below, the face clear. Walking in a dual
rhythm, in a symmetry of form
and motion, distances come into view.
The human face is meant to see a morning
dawn in other human eyes, and walk
in brightness under human skies. Our arms
are free to recreate the world. A stalk
has heads, all full of many seeds; they calmly
face the east in fields of swaying wheat,
their seeds are harvested for food to eat.
When Jesus died his arms were stretched out wide.
The sun from east to west had crossed the sky.
Is this the reason the Messiah died,
as those around witnessed his parting cries?
How could those near him know the plans that Jesus
had in mind? They could but wonder, are
they good? The blue sky seems to speak a yes,
but clouds appear across its face, and stars
give night a beauty that is cold. His face
too lost its warmth in agonies of death,
and coldness slept within his bones. To trace
the waft of air that was his final breath,
that disappeared into the evening sky –
none could – but see his arms outstretching wide!
And who in heaven thought their home was there?
Eternal time had an eternal pressure
that, like a cellar full of bottled beer,
awaited fullness of another measure.
Not the measure of the liquid in the
bottle, but the volume of the gas
to be released. The pressure builds within
until the cellar full explodes. Alas,
the ancient halls of heaven are being shattered
by the cries of the Messiah as he
dies upon a cross, and it matters
not they crumble and they fall, for see
the rain is pouring, ceaseless from the sky,
and heaven has come down here where he died.
The candles are extinguished one by one,
like light that fades on faces we have known,
and days that circle past us like the sun,
and birds departing, flying to their homes.
The room once full of light is poorer now,
as sky is poorer after rain has gone,
and dawn is when the stars all fade like flowers,
and people when a bird completes its song.
The earth once full of faces is bereft –
where have they gone, the ones who once walked here?
The light of ninety billion suns has set,
that hosted singing birds for their short years.
And in the room the final candle ceased,
and darkness settled till the coming feast.
In a humble piece of wood a sculptor
finds another form lying hidden there.
He works so patiently, his carving calls
what lay within into the morning air.
The grain inside the heart is meant to feel
the sculptor’s hands. We need his skill to find
us there – his eye to see what lies concealed –
and match us to the image in his mind.
All that exists is one majestic tree.
Its roots are sunk into eternity.
Its branches stretch into the world to be.
Within its form he sees both you and me.
What is this beauty in our grain?
What God has placed there shall remain.
For on a single piece of wood
the universe was understood.
The final candle is extinguished,
now the hall is filled with night,
every watching face has faded,
drifting there beyond our sight.
The prince of life has from us parted,
earth receives his broken form,
all that watch are broken hearted,
hope shall never be reborn.
The final candle, it was hidden
near the altar, far from view,
though the hall is dark, now listen
books are slammed against the pew:
Christ is risen, not forsaken,
life forever is renewed.
I wake up from my sleep and it is there –
simplicity – my consciousness is drinking
air; the canvas of a masterpiece
where all is painted with such care I think
he must be very great to balance it,
as light is balanced, perfect in the air.
I watch the dancing motion of the leaves,
high up in clumps on gums; behind, the slowly
moving light filled clouds. So much of earth
and sky is filled with light and wind. Earth drifts
to sky, the sky to stars, the stars to night.
I hear the sounds of leaves outside – I wake –
a dream? No, in simplicity of things
complexity is weightless, like the air.
A sculptor from a single piece of wood
creates a being that was not there before.
Its shape was somehow there to be, but none could
see it, till he used another law.
Within the grain of human being a life
is waiting to be born that needs the touch
of skilful hands, to loosen innate strife
and knots, and carve into being so much more.
The law by which the sculptor works is love,
we all are structured by its rules, and bend
when it is called to play. This law, above
what’s common here, is our true calling. Send
your Spirit, melt our iron wills in fire,
release and recreate our heart’s desires.
The horizontal sweep of clouds is balanced
by the sun’s trajectory. They move from
north to south or east to west, or turn
again the other way. The sun, however,
rises and then sets. It seems there are
two principles at work within the sky.
The one is that of how all being emerges
and recedes, the flight of our existence
above nothingness, a bird upon
a breeze. The other is the path that heaven
takes, a radiance that is within,
that reaches down the roots of trees to start
where they begin and rise through trunk to leaf
to sky. Both are – in glorious harmony.
Within the earth there is a molten core
Where rocks have liquefied
The surface of the world is clothed in green and blue
And here and there its flesh can be seen
Its breath surrounds it
The blue air
And often you can see it in the clouds
Like breath is seen on a cold day
Or mist on a window
All around the earth the deepest night
Goes on and on
An endless ocean
It is alone
It sees a presence in the sky
Every day it turns to look at it
As it journeys through the night
It finds a force is pulling it
And as days turn into years
It finds it is circling the sun
And finds that other worlds are too
And comes to see a burning core
Is what they all share
And Jesus, when you came to live here in
this world you made, you took the form of us.
And so the world began to be a single
place where everything that lives is touched
by light, as when the sun has come to make
all being bright. But Jesus, when I see
your face in all, I see I am mistaken –
what shall be shall be the radiance
of what is now. For as the world that you
had made became the egg from which you came,
the world to be shall be sky in which the two
of us shall fly – the uncreated son
and we who were created here to share
the liberty of uncreated air.
Joseph, Heli, Matthat, Levi, Melki,
Jannai, Joseph, Mattathias, Amos, Nahum,
Esli, Naggai, Maath, Mattathias, Semein,
Josek, Joda, Joanan, Rhesa, Zerabbabel,
Shealtiel, Neri, Melki, Addi, Cosam,
Elmadam, Er, Joshua, Eliezer, Jorim,
Mathat, Levi, Simeon, Judah, Joseph,
Jonam, Eliakim, Melea, Menna, Mattatha,
Nathan, David, Jesse, Obed, Boaz,
Salmon, Nahshon, Amminadab, Ram, Hezron,
Perez, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham,
Terah, Nahor, Serug, Reu, Peleg,
Eber, Shelah, Cainan, Arphaxad, Shem,
Noah, Lamech, Methuselah, Enoch, Jared,
Mahalalel, Kenan, Enosh, Seth, Adam,
Fourteen from the call of Abram to
the kingdom in Jerusalem and fourteen
more until the exile – like the moon
that waxes and then wanes. Darkness seems
to often triumph, men delay the good
that God intends. But see, the moon was only
sleeping, soon it waxes strong again,
and none can hide it, night itself is bathed
in light – fourteen generations more,
and the Messiah comes. The moon is full,
the morning star appears and God arises
in men’s night. Luke records the family
line in seven more than seventy –
the names that ring the ancient tree of life.
The tree grows backwards in Luke’s gospel, like
a stone thrown in a lake – ripples circle
outwards from the centre, from Messiah
back to God; from the present, here
recorded, to eternity before.
God the hidden outer circle that
the ripples move towards, and the One
who threw the pebble in the distant lake
of time. And like the ripples circling outwards,
I am carried on the wave that Jesus
set in motion – from Jerusalem,
Judea, through Samaria, beyond
unto the end of time – where the waves
are breaking on the shores from which they came.`
From the fabric of the stars we men
are made. Each element, each part of us
was formed within a star. The humblest twig
upon a tree was once the dust of galaxies.
We have a royalty in our bones.
And mankind too an image bears of times
before we were, a mirror in whose crystal
glass the features of another world
can still be seen. And in the eye within
our souls we sometimes see eternity.
For from the dust of human beings a future
world, once made of dreams, is soon to be.
And from the ashes in our graves eternal
stars will spring in countless galaxies.
A tiny tadpole in a pond that swims
around both night and day and maybe sees
with tiny eyes the great expanse they call
the sky how can it know what it will be
when like a seed beneath a tree that sends
its roots into the soil and finds a tiny
shoot uncurls mysteriously from deep
within it also finds its body grows
to be what tadpoles ought to be but
knew not as they swam around both night
and day beneath the sun and stars that came
across the pond in which they came one day
to be and grew as seeds beneath a tree
to be a frog as we become as he.
When I see a soaring bird that spirals
in the sky, I wonder at the way
the bird began. A sphere of shell was all
it knew, a world inside a world, where maybe
it could here the wind or catch the rhythm
of its mother’s call. But now its shell
is the great hemisphere of sky, a hidden
realm beyond it lies and through that shell
it flies. I watch below and wonder as it breaks
the surface of the air and reaches into
space beyond my sight, and my heart aches
to see it leave. It found an open window
as it once had found before – and broke
the shell around and saw what was unspoken.
How can it be that I should lie beneath
the ground like roots of trees? The roots of me
are sunk within my mother’s womb and through
that veil into my mother’s and my father’s
lives, and into wombs from which they came.
And so like you, my roots are sunk through all
of time into eternity. How can
it be that I should lie beneath the ground
like roots of trees? I see your roots pass through
the grave, an open tomb the morning gave
to you the day that you arose, and in
another world of trees you bloom, a fragrance
in the air, an orchard filled with humming
bees, my roots outstretch to there.
What is the reason we are here on earth?
Some live beneath the sun a million hours.
Why did a word decree our time of birth,
beginning days that fall like summer showers?
I see no reason in the sky above,
although its steady face is new each day.
I’m told it is the steady face of love
that holds the secret, come what may. But I
am looking to the flowers that fill the planet
with their light, the winter left the sky
so bare, a bleakness settled everywhere,
but in those tiny shapes I see the secret
of their birth and ours, from holy deaths
emerging there, the holy face of love.
And in the cloudbursts of the sky I hear
the future calling out. I stand beneath
the pouring rain and find there is no fear,
the thunder joy, the lightening is relief,
for God is greater far than any can
conceive, and from his hand all goodness comes,
he never will run dry, a hurricane
of love is pouring from the sky, and running
down the eaves, and bending all the trees,
and filling empty buckets, sending rivers
past my feet, and I cannot believe
how good he is to us who once sent rivers
of his blood to earth, with lightening strike
of spear, released a holy rain of tears.
Farewell, my name included in that tree,
upon a branch perhaps, whose knotted birth
is seen in cross sections of wood, whose rings
are like the rings within the trunk, the mark
of years of orbit round the sun, the life
of each who learn to walk with God like Enoch,
then no longer be, my name is now
a memorial within the wood, to simply
be a part of one great tree, whose root
is God and canopy the crown of Christ’s
eternity, whose girth is wide, and branches
stretch from every side, and now the tree
that stood in Eden, planted by the four
great rivers, rises high to fill the heavens.
Some days I get so little done,
the light fades, I have just begun
to do what I would do.
The moon has risen over trees,
the night completes what day began,
and only dreams can raise the sun,
and here I am to wake a day
that night has taken far away.
Our life, as little as the day that’s past,
needs another, better than the last.
Some of the poems in this collection refer to the Tenebrae service. This is held on the Thursday evening before Easter. The church is lit by many candles. As each reading is completed – or sung in a choral setting – a candle is extinguished. At the end the church is in darkness – although secretly the final candle, representing Christ, has been hidden behind the altar. The hymnbooks are slammed shut and banged against the pews – echoing the earthquake after the crucifixion – and the Christ candle again raised.
Many churches use fifteen candles, although there is a record from Mediaeval times of a church using seventy-two.
The last sonnet sequence reproduces the genealogy found in the third chapter of Luke – the Messiah came at the fullness of time.