While once, perusing the life-lines of your face,
Its landmarks of grace, failure; pathways of shadow, light,
The question lingered, ‘What it is that has brought you salvation?’
I now see this as a telling for your rest bed, your death-bower,
Where witness to the silence imbuing every life hangs…
No, now what I want to know is this:
What is it that has brought you
To the edge places of your life?
Where is it that you’ve encountered and felt your terror,
And allowed its claw to draw you closer to the ground?
What is the story of your bowing descent
Into the bone and matter of things?
And where in that evolution were you brought to see,
How spineless are the ladders of escape?
Who did you meet along the way,
That allowed the mossy earth to grow beneath you,
And your bone to be the anchor,
Your skin to be the vessel for embrace?
What is it in your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch
That drew you into the vast detail of the world?
And what was it that incarnated in you daily,
As you rose into each morning to lift the tools of labour?
On the cusp of each hurt, each dream,
Is an horizon.
And it is we who choose
To keep looking to its edge to be exalted,
Or to level our eye to its beckoning wave.
The first may go the distance, but few can follow;
The second is where, skin, bone and breath walk back to life,
And from the table’s crumbed surface
We, however poor, take up our art.
I saw a man doing this very thing this morning.
He was watering his herb bed with a hose,
And an old crooked crone walked onto his land.
Dressed in the weeds of mourning,
Head clad, back burdened with her bag of brush,
She gestured to him, and with the song of foreign tongue
She chorused the death of her love,
And why-without-who she makes this journey every day,
So crossing, from her scrubby patch of field, his threshold towards home.
It was the kindness of his leaning body that I saw;
His bent-ear-and-hose following her broken spine,
A vision a thousand times more namely than these cobbled words.
But I will mention this:
It does not interest me what has brought you salvation,
But (and you will do greater works than miracles)
What carries you to such as these, the edge places of your life,
Where yes, even the desert sends forth a bud.
June 2015, Greece