Carrion Sea (May 1962, revised 2014)
I, silent dykes about me build,
fenders against the sea.
This bitter sea surges in might,
perpetually moulds the cliff, proud earth,
then softens it, sifts it to sand and sucks its richness.
Cold this deep, compassion not in it, nor pity.
Green-cliffs lurch, then crash against my poor defences,
Beat their fists against my hopes, and die in a smother of foam.
Yet remnants swiftly rush and slide
to catch my feet,
taste unhealing wounds and hound my soul.
White death, thunder death,
throwing itself on sword rocks,
But still climbing, climbs, yet inch by inches, climbs the heap of mourning bones,
to reach its prey: me.
it will not reach.
I used to climb into my dreams
Of wealth, and power and fame.
Inside their glittering shell I found
Refuge from the pain.
But now I’ve come upon a desert land
The shadow days and darker nights of which
Know not the moon of love’s requiting
Nor even lesser lights of stars.
I cannot dull the ache of ancient wounds.
Rest from questing for an obscure Grail
Is not a grace I have received,
Nor have I caught forgiveness’ scent
On this dark air.
Or so it seems,
Until my lightless eyes
How long a passage I have made.
A rock engraving of a fish on one of the many flat areas of exposed rock on the sandstone plateau….
I am a person of the sandstone country,
first steps here,
last home already chosen in a place I know,
beneath the sandy clay here.
There have been many here before me,
so many years that the rise and fall of the land,
the worn floors of the caves,
the shelly black ground of the campfire shores,
and paths, made by the feet of thousands of witnesses,
tells me of their presence here still.
And the flowers still bloom
in the winter of the Southern Cross,
as it makes its nightly Pole vault,
keeping its ancient watch
over the sleeping plateaus and escarpments,
creeks and gorges,
and over the night creatures,
who only come alive
when the sun is sleeping.
Love alone is credible
Only love is credible,
all else is imitation;
But love is only for that part of self
That’s given to another
Who is by the giving now a part of self
And so is lovable.
All else is imitation.
God is love, it’s said,
But it is only true if love is God.
The verb to be, you see,
Takes no object.
The little French mechanic
Who thought because he thought, he was,
No doubt could make a Citroen run
But failed objectively with tense and time.
The verb to be, you see,
Has neither cause nor consequence.
We love the God-who-with-us-goes, Emmanuelle,
Rejoicing only in and as the mirror
Of Her joy,
As the given gift delights the giving self
Who in the receiver mirrored, also gets.
The giver and the getter both
In otherseen delight both give and get again,
Bounding and rebounding
In a rhythm that makes old time
Not only run but dance.
That is why we love.
The swelling silks of yellow grasses
And gold-white fields of wheat
Sweep down the ever steepening curves
To the flat belly of the land.
Gullies of grey-green bush
Split rounded limbs of worn out ridges,
Veined with blue hints of roads,
Windbreaks, and dark triangles of pines.
The great Dragon’s trail of basalt blisters
Stipples the song line of her rising,
Swimming beneath the crust,
And diving again
Into the magma deep
And in her weathered wake of loam
Satisfied farmers crumble the soil in their hands.
Someone Always Hears
If you have no water to give to those who thirst
Take them by the hand and find water together.
If your own wounds
Stop you from binding the wounds of others
To carry them to the inn,
Lie down beside them by the roadside.
If you cannot go to a prison,
To bring friendship and help to those inside,
Because you are in a prison of your own,
call out from afar.
There is in each of us enough strength
To see the stars.
To strike a spark that may grow into a fire.
Even in the wilderness,
A voice, crying,
is always heard by someone.
Is it possible
that every cliché hides a truth?
The autumn forests of Germany
are just what you expected
with their photogenic, polychromatic
Replicas of some travel poster
you’ve already seen.
But in their presence,
they fix you with the power
of their nicely judged relations:
their perfect balance.
They make it easier to believe
in some divinity
indulging in just that degree of self revelation
she judges we could stand
if we should look too closely.
My childhood ways
ran along the great stone tops
until they fell,
in tumbling blocks and slabs,
down ragged sandstone steps,
to the water’s edge.
Grass trees swirl,
in steep rivers of scrub.
And thin pockets of eucalyptus mulch
are taloned to the rock
by hard-skinned, small-flowered bonsai plants.
My heart is in the sandstone country
the land of the Eora people:
the place of their clans,
the Gadigal, Wanegal, Cammeraygal,
and all the other sandstone clans,
and we late comers,
who also, now, belong
to the sandstone land.