Strange to be flourishing so far afield;
its home is equatorial, tropical,
not here, among suburban paddocks,
with a straight line down to Antarctica.
Yet, while silver birch weeps
and quince decks boggy ground with its midwinter yellow,
this Malaysian friend greets me with
loud, audacious pink,
asserting its brilliant right to exist,
here, far from home:
its only purpose to be,
and beautifully so.
Senseless acts of beauty went
unnoticed as the runners ran
and golfers golfed
and my head span.
Full of self I stormed upon
the beaten earth and missed the shades
of microscopic brown and green,
the flower hidden in the leaves,
the pounding in the runner’s ears,
the grace which binds me to these years
and notices it all.
The garden holds promises, and I visit them daily:
minuscule at first,
fluffy, unsure, like
hesitant children, awaiting the world.
This is not quite their season:
the Rabbi knew as much,
yet visited expectant nonetheless.
And, as frost and dew recede, there they are,
peeping and proffering garden-bound joy.
Too early to pluck,
too much promise curse.
So I’ll visit them daily
until they can sing.
There hasn’t been a lot going on at The Consolations of Writing for the past few weeks: partly because the busyness of life has conspired against my being able to write very much but also because after three and a half years of managing this site I’ve been in the process recently of rethinking what I use it for. I’m in the midst, when time allows, of an extended writing project centred around faith, mental health and the fragmentation of 21st century life. Some of it is on the down low, but some can be found at a new site I’m trialling, sprawlpoems.wordpress.com. And, as that site slowly takes on its own identity, this site seems to be returning to some of its old roots: the question of how writing can bridge the gap between faith and life.
It’s a question I have asked for a long time, both in my own writing and reflection. And now it has a new shape: a doctoral thesis I am in the throes of, around the links between creative writing and adolescent well-being in schools – a topic close to my heart as both a teacher and a writer. So the new question that I’m toying with is this: what does it look like in my own writing for me to be exploring this topic?
The answer is not yet clear, though some ideas are slowly circulating in my mind. I’ll still be posting poems here, though they may have a different flavour. You can also read the poems I post at Sprawl. But there will also be some new ideas and approaches that I’ll be trialling here in the coming weeks and months. I hope you can all join me in the process!
I gather moments like raindrops,
these microscopic buds of spring
tricked by sun
to come out, one by one;
how hesitant can be
the grandest glimpse of things
I catch the way your moments dance
from distance –
yet close enough to ring
the shadows into song
in soft, legato days of praise.
how hopefully we hold
in tentative expectancy
You hold our hope in moments of joy,
What we do not expect
grips tight. I neglect
too soon what we know. Let go
that pass. Joy is forever,
the things that stir our hearts in song.
The bee is not afraid of me,
I know the butterfly.
Busy as themselves, they bustle
in explosion of hum and hive.
Contained, less fearsome, they pattern out their piece of wall
in splendour of black and Emperor’s yellow.
Intricate weaving, a tight-packed fabric of sweetness and protection,
this is nothing to startle at.
Yet children cannot play with them or with each other,
and deathly stings signal the sickness, not create it.
Until lion and lamb are united,
and babies can rest in the serpent’s nest,
until we have no fear of bees killing or dying,
until then we wait, and watch glory from afar.
Beauty still buzzes and demands our sight.
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.
Prayers of Intercession
After Felix Mendelssohn, “Veni Domine, Op.39”
Veni Domine, et noli tardare.
Come, Lord, and do not delay.
With empty horn
and plaintive voice:
Sunk in mire,
sunk in self:
Et noli tardare.
Our earth is cracked, our reservoirs dry:
Veni domine, we cry.
With rising anguish, rising hearts:
Et noli tardare.
Awaiting future harvest, while
the crops are languid in these days
O Veni domine,
The horn of plenty has no sound
but groans of prayer,
from Spirit fuelled:
O Veni Domine, et Veni
Domine, et Veni Domine…
With dread and hope, in mounting cry:
Veni domine, O Veni
at the clouds we sit:
O Lord –
Come; do not delay.
After Antonio Vivaldi, “Le Quattro Stagioni – La Primavera: II. Largo”
Creator God, whose praise and power are proclaimed by the whole creation: receive our morning prayers, we pray…
(A Prayer Book for Australia)
Consider how the lilies open –
Watch them enter into light…
in all his splendour
was not robed like these.
Consider, also fleeting sparrows:
not gathering, not daring night.
Watch sparrows dance
across these flowers –
watch as dew sings praise.
O sing, and be in quiet hours
witnesses of lily-joy..
Consider how the lilies open –
watch, and praise Him
After Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, “Venite Exultemus Domino”
So lift –
O praise –
to brighten hearts
star of Truth,
the hail down
and scatters seed
His shepherd throne.