Saturday, August 14, 2010


Under Heaven
for Robert

Though each of a thousand wagging leaves
vainly proclaims its own green tongue
when moved they make
one chorus under heaven

Mouben, Maho, Mahogani, Mango:
they all flower in their season and give praise
but at the wind’s insistence
a single flawless canvas raise

No doubt
these are god’s hills.

Though rivers crave their serpentine ways
stirring currents round unanchored will
sweet, salt or brackish brine
They are his waters, still.

Tumbling torrent, whispering spring
riotous wave, the ruddy stream
scouring the rooted levy:
there are his wonders seen.

If these were our days
after the hosanna of each sunrise
the earth would be deflated
bereft with words unwise

Would suffer faith in shattered seasons
sacrament and sacrifice both crumbling
scattered without farewell
small hope of joy returning

But look upon the sea’s diurnal labour
her ritual selflessly repeating
now departure, now return,
tendering and retreating

From the feet of high brown cliffs.
There every pebble makes a humble offering
of hope, until the surge
drawing breath for its own proffering

Defying the black gaze of frigates,
mimicking the mountain’s chorus,
churns the stony multitude to chanting
an incantation which no heart ignores.

Then under the white wings of egrets
each amnesiac wave erases a transgression
hides some sinning
absolves an indiscretion

And at the water’s edge
faith returns from its prodigal digression
pebbles pray with shells rejoicing
all drenched in exaltation.

So too, beyond the sentient reef
at the chancel to the cloistered bay
the ocean kneels to hoist its bleach├ęd banners,
to herald all the blessings of the day

to heave its chastened crest
to resurrect on a tide of forgiven wrongs
even the dead bark that once was
a babel of green tongues.

Days, waters, mountains, leaves…
If it were not for men, I might believe.


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