Till We Have Our Faces Back

First you will learn about smiles,
how much you smile,
what's contained in a smile,
what's implied in the different degrees of smile:
in a curl of the lip at a funny thought,
in the mouth's outstretched corners
to greet the close acquaintance,
in the sardonic phrase,
the empathic moment.
All these things you will learn
when they cannot be seen.

And eyes. You will learn about eyes.
How readily you can recognise eyes
across a courtyard or carpark, how
much you can guess of a heart or a day
from the eyes poking out above the nose.

And breath. You will learn about breath.
You will taste it, smell it, absorb it all day.
You will choose your words and your silence to preserve
moments when you can simply breathe.
You will long to stand
in the garden
beside your office
and do nothing
in that afternoon air
but take off your mask and breathe.

And faces - you will catch, in their absence,
the beauty, the wonder of faces,
the heart-catching, God-splendoured glory of faces.
You will long for the faces
that you loved and despised,
will search the room for these faces,
will wish that these faces
could transfigure their otherness straight into yours.
You will cover your face
and stifle your breath
and halve your smile
in hope of the day,
to work for the day,
when all of our faces are back.

Broken Syllables

We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator: single letters, and syllables uncomposed, are no better than nonsense.
(Richard Baxter)

Al-

In the beginning was the Word.

Pha

And we too were words,
the sounds of breath from His lips:

Adam
Let us make
Image
Likeness
Be fruitful
Increase

All sounds consonant with
the cosmic sentence,
no clause displaced.

In the beginning
was Alpha.
The whole DNA code begun
with A,
the chain of being linked
phoneme to phoneme.

And then
the dislocated sound:
the will punctuates the purpose.
Image becomes willful noise.

O

Return to purpose, man.
Return to the endless string of perfect sense.

O
Sing the perfect word, the song.
O me.
You were made to speak, to be
Between the A
Between the grace of Alpha and
Omega.

Eikon

No mirror to reflect,
no voice, only      dust,
sculpted by hands,
                             crafted by plan.
No self-stirring spirit,
no knowledge,     no thrust,
only dust, fingerprinted,
moulded –   with tears
and with blood    and with sweat –
now we stand,
                    heart and body,
earthenware image,
dust reflecting
      in praise.

image