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.
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.
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 as well, 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 rise from stony beds.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 our hearts 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.
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.