prodigal

come home
to where you are needed
we have left your old chair
at the water’s edge
still waiting

remember again the place of your making
long since forgotten

your father’s face
remember your home

your mother’s terrace
where you sat alone

watching for tears on a weeping fig
that she left in a pot by the door

a place at the table
kept down the years

unbroken

all has been left
wide open

hart song

I went hunting the hart
but the hart I did not see

except for one sweet moment
then only fleetingly

this lonely life is brief
and then to be at peace

I went hunting the hart
a hart too quick for me

unbegun

they are giving me something now to help me sleep
sink deeper in this avenue of angels

in the heart of the terrible absence
we are done

we are unbegun

and our lives do not belong to us at all

saints and angels come

ever

when the day comes
it comes from nowhere

even to those who wait

yes she said
a thousand times yes

but once would have been enough
to last for ever

and when the women came
they found the door open

and the room filled with light
for she had risen

and gone to the market
where they sell fresh pomegranate

gentian

gorse

parakeets in wire cages

on the library steps

softly
softly the waves lap

you were waiting
on the library steps

when least expected
but not forgot

for whom I threw away the trinket
of great price

you hold it at your breast
forever

soft as water

hold the light

as I search the whole world over
for comfort

to comfort you have come

love quickening out of silence
to split wide open

and recover all that I am

the exile

tell me about the sea
and what it means
and what the weather’s like in Brindisi
where my people come from
who I never met

I know more about the sea
and what it means
than I do of those who made me
and summoned me from sleep

tell me about the sky
and what that means

and what it means
to live without regret

I spend my days collecting meanings
and haven’t found one yet

simple things precisely said

it never gets dark here
we have stars and streetlamps
to keep us awake

headlights on the ceiling at 3am

I rise to a hoar frost
and the ground of my being is frozen

later there will be rain
and I will listen at the window

I like to hear about your baking
your day

simple things precisely said
that mean a lot
to one
so far away

complicated things
that you know how to make

sound easy

pretending not to hear

darkness before dawn
I listen
as is my practice

lifting the mug of coffee to my lips
with both hands

the dog is sleeping on the bed

you tell me (as have others)
that the truth is closer
than I am to myself
closer than the thick black liquid
quickening in my throat

only it’s not working today

it is not here
that which with a rush is only everywhere

in your voice
the quiet breathing of the dog
the sip of coffee

grace knows no horizon
the heart no other resting place
than this

yet I’m no wiser

like children at a rock pool
we have dipped our buckets
and I have drawn up nothing once again

curious water
a ribbon of seaweed

if I were on my deathbed
even now
yours is a voice
to lead me by circuitous paths
to nowhere

which is the only place
I ever thought to be

it might be birdsong
or the voice of my father
calling up the stair
as I rocked on my heels
pretending not to hear
so long ago

I spit the grounds
place the mug down gently to one side
close my tired eyes
and see more clearly
that I am never closer to God
than when I am about to fall

and know

there is no one here to catch me
but myself

one second

so long I have waited
listening for a footfall at the door

now in that very listening
am assured

that You have never left this house at all
for one second

but have in all this time
been overlooked

simply ignored