Daily Reset

“…dirt [is] matter out of place.”
(Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger)

When the day’s settling is done, I seek
order in domestic chaos, restoring
categories I never previously held:
that these trains belong together and those
trucks do not; while this bus driver
does not fit that car, nor
does that book belong in
the middle of a gleeful floor.
But what to do
when categories are stretched beyond
rational recognition? For instance, what
to do with an unaccompanied sock
keeping company with a lone building block?
And the day must leave unsolved the mysteries
of where the baby monitor went or why
those DVDs are now room-mates with a train.
I calm the room like the baby who wakes
as the last Lego block is returned to its place,
while the unsorted debris of my own fractured day
must sit in its chaos, held in unuttered prayer.

A Mindlessness Prayer

These days when all of the socks are odd
and all your thoughts are scrambled eggs
and, try as you might to talk to God,
nothing much makes any sense,

for the rubbish awaits in noisome piles,
the bills are due and so’s the tax
and the laundry measures its depth in miles
and the devil has pains for idle backs –

unjumble yourself in a heap at Christ’s feet;
ramble and rant to the maker of ants
and all that creeps the planet, replete
with all its tangled, unnecessary plants;

rejoice to be useless and childlike and weak;
rejoice that you cannot make anything work;
rejoice and delight that the end of the week
will come round regardless of what you deserve;

and delight to know that mindless you are
yet He who is mindful of you holds the stars.

“Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble?”

When David’s son scanned
the spiritual wreckage that was His house
and delared, “Destroy this
and I’ll raise it in three days,”
He meant
what He said not as
metaphor – which my students all know
is a kind of lying, a hedging of bets –
but as Truth, both in symbol and fact.
Daily they destroyed this house, and He,
the true house, would raise it,
would turn dull rubble to praise Him.

And when palm branches waved
in Passover praise, and these
Sanballats of another age raved,
and He silenced them, likened them
to duller than stone, for stones
could be turned to a chorus of praise –
I wonder if He turned in mind
to Nehemiah, with
his sword and his trowel, who
knew certainly how
our best laid plans make the best laid rubble
until all our rubble
is animate, raised
and taught again
to praise.

Instruments: For Francis of Assisi

Today the church remembers St Francis of Assisi, so here is a sneak peek at a new poem I wrote based on his life and ethos for The Swelling Year.

Instruments (For Francis of Assisi)

All our instruments tend to dischord.
We turn away from harmony
in search of our own tunes.

Brother Jesus, in leper’s dress, welcomes us.
We leave Him with His bell and seek
better jewels and robes.

The channels of our hearts are noise.
Only little buds whisper the wonder
that God came as child.

Christ who died for life’s sake: teach
my miser-heart to be a pauper for love,
breathing into death.

“Consolation” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I don’t normally share other people’s work here but I read this gem this morning and it was so precious – especially the ending – that I thought I had to post it.

Consolation – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

All are not taken; there are left behind
Living Beloveds, tender looks to bring
And make the daylight still a happy thing,
And tender voices, to make soft the wind:
But if it were not so—if I could find
No love in all this world for comforting,
Nor any path but hollowly did ring
Where ‘dust to dust’ the love from life disjoin’d;
And if, before those sepulchres unmoving
I stood alone (as some forsaken lamb
Goes bleating up the moors in weary dearth)
Crying ‘Where are ye, O my loved and loving?’—
I know a voice would sound, ‘Daughter, I AM.
Can I suffice for Heaven and not for earth?’

Memento Mori: After Chris Wallace-Crabbe

abel pann
Abel Pann – Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

And Adam, seeing that
immortality had not clothed him but
left his glory naked,

felt in his body the future ache
of all who would toil and moil
their mortal days, and

taking Eve’s hand, he hid
their rude-awakened flesh
in the quiet of a deceitful glade

while the immortal searched
to clothe them and teach
their mortal bodies again to praise.

I, like Adam, fancy myself a god
and hide when my flesh
exposes the subtle dream.

Yet in the cool of the day,
when the creator covers my failing skin,
I can learn it is better

to be clothed by Him.

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.