When I was a monk or whatever it is that I was
for a breeze in the big wooded days out the west
there was only one book which I portioned aloud
to myself on a Sunday, cud-chewed the rest of the week.
For art and characters I lay on the moss-swaddled slab
of a thousand year Chief, watched shape-changing shapes
ceaselessly drift without plot, then dissolve in a sun
wheeling round to a moon that put me into a trance.
I saw thunderous battles in the Epicking stars.
There were no repeats. I was never bored. Weather
was my living music – unscorable, mercurial, diverse;
varying seasons of trees, birds, animals, grasses, insects, seas –
mutable wind’s modulations of these; innumerable rains
on the tracks, on the lake, down on hives, down on huts,
down on limestone, on granite, on canopies, thatch…
Occasional monsoonish burstings that freshened the airs
and galvanised armies of ants. The river whose noises
were never the same. My own organic back catalogue.
Sometimes, passing by near a cliff or a bank a man on
a skiff would be singing of his mother’s death to his daughter.
Or she’d be laughingly singing of newborns to him.
That would do me for a year. I heard angels in Sessiles
and demons in Yew stands disputing my soul. What harm?
All who have souls are disputed and split. Soldierly
drumming from slopes near the fjord; from which
slope exactly, who knew? I couldn’t care less.
No-one can rob from a man who has nothing to give
only brotherly silence in the fathomless silence of God.
Each Spring I would stroll a few days to the coast,
and heave out as deep and as cold as I could
– waking my bones and my joints for the Summer.
Among amiable porpoises I glid and I dove,
gargling along in their gargletalk, as if I were one
of their brood. Each August I stood in a meadow
of storms, my palms stretched up rod-height.
I was struck once or twice by magnificent lightning
from Gabriel’s Horn. My brain bloomed like a desert bush. I was nothing but fire in those instants.
One day I fished a blue baby girl from the lake.
I shrouded her in my own black rags. In guttering
shades of a grove on the bank, ululating wildly
to frighten off animals, I scooped out a grave
and I buried her, with all available ceremony.
For 25 years I did kneel there and weep there
whenever I happened to pass. Daily, I noticed
new curls to a bird cry, new insects I refused
pinning through with name. Names are a hex
on God’s bounty. Extinction begins with a name.
Above all I saw – but it was more than a seeing – how the world stays unowned and unmarked
in its infinite business like an infinite song
only sung by itself inside its own hearing.
No matter who for five minutes yaks
in a vanishing tongue of squaring a rood
in the flow of this world,
driving stakes through fire and flood.