You Will Not Fear

Hiding within my son's clothes,
it lay unseen until bedtime when
it scurried out from his sleeve, explaining
his tears through dinner and
the nick on his wrist spotted
only moments before.

It was not the night to visit Emergency.
Wind and rain buffeted the drive, as
unidentified spider in jar beside me,
I punctuated my frantic breaths with
comma prayers and apostrophe thoughts
of the worst that could happen
in a waiting room at night.


Arriving to warnings plastered on doors,
I tried not to gawk at the three who were kept
behind a sealed door, faces masked,
breathing an obvious chore.
And while we waited, my son
calm, no swelling, spider determined
to see out the night, I pondered
risking it and going home,
but stayed instead, and tried to love
my neighbour from a distance,
sharing smiles that said,
"We're in this together," while mind returned
again, again to the microbes that may,
may not circle the air, and tried not to fear
the pestilence stalking the night, or the day
that I may become one others fear.

Coronavirus, with OCD

Wash your hands; don’t touch your face.

Did I wash my hands, and did

I touch my face after? Before?

Don’t be afraid but be aware.

Wash your hands; don’t touch your face.

These sightless microbes swim in air.

Your nose is dripping. Touch your face.

Wash your hands. Don’t be afraid.

It all may come to nothing; don’t

Touch your face. Now wash your hands.

Grief Before Grief

Here death is a vulture:
devours face and memory,
claws at carrion, feeds on fullness
like life was flesh,
fit for the taking.

But life is a million
intangible moments, all
dazzling and passing
in Eden-sunk grief

and Life won't go silently,
fighting reduction,
while Death - old materialist -
denies Life ever was.

We have seen it, and held it.
We bear its witness.
We stroke its unresponsive hand
and pray to beg it back.

Bloom

Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
(Psalm 126:5)

You’ll be glad to hear your tree is sprouting leaves
and in the midst of blossom, tiny fruit.
Your little brother’s learning all the names
for almond, flowering gum and bottlebrush;
yet you by now will know far more than this.
The grass is thriving; this week we had it mown
and all about’s the fragrance of fresh lawn.
All this you’ve never seen: the buzzing stuff
of life, but life for us waiting like
an almond tree, a hopeful Jesse-shoot.
The bursting things of spring have nothing on
the harvest feast that sings where you now dwell.
We never knew your smile, yet this we’ve known:
for every tear we’ve shed, a seed is sown.

My own garden I have neglected

Gather your spiritual bouquet…
(Francis de Sales)

Plenteous winter rain left
the backyard a grassy forest
where mallow and clover ran riot
and kikuyu spread its runners wide.
The rhizomatic tangle, lush and unbeatable,
enfolded in itself a toddler’s trucks,
a sandpit shovel, a bouncy ball, a peg,
and I, bent on order yet at odds with nature,
push a feeble mower through the shin-high jungle,
and vainly seek a clearing
to untangle my mind.