Against expectation, this
Spartan clipping makes spring flourish more,
this cutting back to bones,
to bare knobbly knuckles makes
growth more abundant when it comes.
And so we bear
the naked cruelty of these bare days,
against all experience,
barren winter feeling,
the buckling in our bones that wants to fall.
Early evening, cool of day, we walk
in the garden to find
evergreen branches to weave a wreath of hope.
My son is distracted. Not tall enough to reach with me,
he stands to watch but soon
decides instead to help
pile the compost heap with grass.
Evergreen and humus: these symbols arrest
as I finish my gathering and crush
fallen leaves to settle the soil
where it sits and brews in ever-cycling growth.
The constant, the growing, the long slow wait of growth
all have their moment in our pining Advent days.
And Mary treasured in her heart
the mystery, the sheer
beyondness of what she held and did not hold.
He already moved from her grasp,
wiser than her and Joseph combined,
outsmarting his teachers,
taking himself off for theological talks,
when she had hardly finished feeding him.
Only time stood between her and total loss, only
years before a sword would pierce
her own soul through – and his, and his.
Only ever years, and yet
these years are how we grow (for she
was the one who’d still to grow.)
I for one enjoy it:
the slow, steady bursting from soil,
those optimistic points of green poking sunward,
the outward spread of tiny tufts,
the promise of patience rewarded.
And so daily I take my little son outside
to see the garden, to “check on the grass”.
All moments are wonders to him, yet I
share the wonder of brown transformed to slow-filling lawn,
the chance that next summer he’ll have carpet for play here,
and I marvel that all our endurance pays off.
I am less inclined to love how stone turns to flesh,
fighting – as it must – against the moss and ivy surrounding it;
less inclined to delight in the decades that it takes
for internal soil to be tilled,
for pruning, manure, for all that needs patience
and costs me myself.
While I daily visit these microscopic green thoughts,
my own garden I have neglected.
Turn over the clumps of dirt; wait another year;
my stubborn tree must one day show fruit.
Hope deferred finds patience no virtue.
Nothing purposed is instant. Fruit grows
first by roots spreading deep,
nutrients drawn, sunlight synthesised,
chlorophyll taking glory from green.
Look to the fig tree. If you see its buds,
Summer’s promise dangles, yet is not realised.
a kitten’s ball of yarn, or a note
waiting to resolve, a game
of slow expectancy.
New year brings blossoms
but fruit is never instant. Trees
ask for patient expectation.
Come here daily; look to leaves
yet wait before you pick.
and yet there is room:
in shoulders, between lanes,
by roadsides, in industrial paddocks.
No room, perhaps, for cars, yet feet
have space to move, if you,
traffic-sore, should rise
into the space where lavender
shifts in wind, gnarled
tree trunks climb
to upward possibility.
on desert paths; He plants
His footsteps in the raging sea.
As inlets, channels, block up here,
prepare your feet,
prepare your way,
prepare to come and see.
Note: Most of this poem was written on a chewing gum packet while stuck in traffic. Chewing gum packet attached to post.
To the odd square peg, the round hole said,
“You really just don’t understand;
The picture’s big, your needs are small.
Shape up, or else ship out.”
“The trouble is,” the round hole said,
“That pegs like you just don’t fit in.
Holes like this are not made of mes,
Nor is there I in TEAM.”
The odd square peg said, “Yes, I see;
But you once sought out pegs like me.”
The hole said, “Quite! Now take this saw
And shave until you’re round.”
To the odd square peg, the carpenter said,
“You are fearfully made.
I use the round to curve the square,
The square to shape the round.”
The odd square peg then saw the hole
And saw that it was good.
It chafed against him, but he stood
To shape, be shaped by it.