R e s p o n s e : 1
I’m either nobody
Or I’m a nation
1 : Seamus Heaney
Wind through the trees
Behind a windbreak wind is breaking through-
Is this the voice of the Goddess?
All began in sunlight and a sunlit absence
Walking the familiar ground of Flanders
Though it could have been Ireland.
The ground imprinted with brevity and gravity
And I thought: Here is a space
For the heart to take hold of wholesome things
As the heart took hold of essence and form-
Form at the dark centre of which was a dark watermark
As if the origins of all things found there a nest.
Here was a beginning. Here was a starting point
Starting out feeling flushed as a rose in the morning
And the morning’s clarity operative as an elixir.
Beginnings. Origins the craft makes its appeal to.
A source that seemed a Temenos for all to follow
The shadows cast by light. Shadow and light. Dark
And the shades of morning in splendid workings.
Dark as the Spanish word for dark and just as mysterious.
What had I come for? What was I seeking in clarity
And shadow? Easy to say, easy to name, easy to confess
That I came seeking the golden apples and admittance into
That realm of fame among sky-born and royal.
Easy to say, easy to confess yet what was confessed but that surge
By which poetry enters the living mind and seeks the living tongue.
And there they were –Flanders and it could have been Ireland-
Fields with the first plough-marks, the stone-age fields,
A landscape fossilized with war and memory; names mutable as sound
And I entered in. I passed through the eye of the quern.
I knelt courteously. Flames hovering to the women hovering.
It was all familiar. Familiar and known and not forgotten.
And I thought: yes, we pine for ceremony. Then women
Of the goddess who set the rituals in motion sent us on our way
Imagining our slow triumph to the tombs of the dead
Who lay beautiful though dead by violence.
This was the bitterness of history and no further lessons
Were needed as I thought of those hacked and glinting
In the gravel of thawed streams.
I stepped outside. This was not what I had come for.
I had come for revelation’s light –the light that can
Burrow the coil and gleam of your furrowed brain
Like a child’s tongue following the toils of his calligraphy.
I saw how the line amazed itself. This was the craft’s mystery
That enters my longhand in this fashion and with these words
Until I am able to move like a skull-handler, parablist
Moving and thinking: We earn our deaths; our one repose.
In the language of touch the bone house was engraved
With the erotic mayflowers and the ivied latins which said:
Re-enter memory. Walk there and know the dialects of love
And so my body was Braille for the creeping influences.
Dreams of Baltic amber nested in the wet nest of my hair
Became the floating rods and boughs to store the memories of love
And I became the artful voyeur of perishable treasure
The love-nest in the bracken, process and ritual. A moon-drinker.
It was as if I stumbled upon the votive goods and sabred fugitives
In the outback of my mind. And thought: This is the vowel of earth
The appetites of gravity. And this is where all origins begin;
Begin and have their origins though ends end somewhere else
In the ground possesses and repossessed, in a spur of light;
The hatching grounds of revelation and seed-pods blowing off
The sycamores. Yes, wind broke through and all changed.
And I stood there lost in a wonderment that seemed to be
Inheriting the last light of the night.