Advent 4: Airport Christmas

We always move around and so
fittingly our Christmas is mobile,
each returning to their homes, like Joseph
and a heavily expectant Mary, carrying
the hope of the world in her womb.

We depart carrying gifts in shopping bags
or catch up on forgotten things at airport stores.
And when we arrive: reunion, but
no birth, Messiah forgotten where we left Him
and hope still swirling at the baggage carousels.

Damascus Road: No location

image

No flights to Damascus
and if there were
Safety would fly in the face of Intention.
Where knowledge is danger, is ignorance bliss?
I cannot walk Straight Street and know the vision
that blinded Saul, or see the home
where scales fell from well-meaning eyes.
That much is past; no flights can take me
where not even the locals go.
And would I even know, if by
some sudden wind, I found myself
on cobbled stones of Sunni blood,
and if I saw where churches fell
and watched the flight of history –
what could I know? What Qantas knows
is where the terminals make way,
not who lost home or who lost hope
or where the life is found.

Music for children’s choir

Headphone-bound, children sing as I round the corner.

The nonchalance of late morning traffic greets

a flutter of flight – black and white feathers –

painting the street in uncontrolled strokes:

a rise, a swoop, a leap, a fall.

 

Ballet-graced, yet deadly in its implications:

too wild, too close to the turmoil of wheels.

Cars persevere. Children sing:

Veni Domine, et noli tardare.

O come; no delay. Around the tyre-tracks of the day,

a magpie fights death as it flies.

 

 

Like Eagles

Wing-of-Bird

First   
the twinge of bone:
         feathers attach
                   painful, yet
  somehow transcending
                   ground and
the now-ness of temporal agony.
 
Skeletal complexities fan – now in, now
 
out, now soar: old age flaps, youth,
                  renewed, soars
    to cloud, to wind, to heights
                   of grace floating
           on broken,
fledgling, resurrected
wings.
 

The Meaning of Flight

Melencolia - Albrecht Dürer
Melencolia – Albrecht Dürer

It is a little over a year since a family friend – only a few years older than me – took his life by jumping in front of a train. I wrote the poem “Silent Screams” in response to his death, and also dedicated my collection of poems, “Imperceptible Arms”, to his memory. It has been a while since my writing here has dealt with issues of mental health, but the memory of my friend’s death and my own ongoing struggles with mental illness have prompted me to revisit these ideas. May God’s presence and grace be with everyone who knows these same struggles.

The Meaning of Flight
 
In dreams I am encumbered,
like legs have lost their firmness and
cannot move of their own accord,

as though I must
     lever myself
     along the ground
with arms ill-equipped for this purpose.

On ground, awake, I
     move freely,
bound only by           time,
                        gravity, injury, the
limits of body and strength –
only shackled by
     the weight of mind
     making each
lap, each step a
motion further sometimes
     into the ground.

             And in
     dreams of flight, my
     unbound state terrifies; I
            soar too quick across
     the tops of trees
                     and fling
     into the air where
            nothing can
     contain my motion.

Bound, I am weighed down,
but free – I am without weight, without –

    what? The anchor
needed to give meaning to my flight?

Angel with
   sunken wings            that atrophy beneath
           a sunken gaze –

                  look up to where
        the sun dances
              in starshower and

        the fraught geometry of time
and                 space
              are rendered nothing in
                your living,     endless,
                  ever-purposed
                                flight.