I'm discovering that a spiritual journey is a lot like a poem.
You don't merely recite a poem or analyze it intellectually. You dance
it, sing it, cry it, feel it on your skin and in your bones. You move
with it and feel its caress. It falls on you like a teardrop or wraps
around you like a smile. It lives in the heart and the body as well as
the spirit and the head.
Sue Monk Kidd
These poems are to be found, along with many more, in ReSource’s poetry collection Distilling Life.
I mean to retire, where
Nobody will have heard about my special skills
And conversation is mainly about the weather.
I intend to learn how to make coffee, at least as well
As the Portuguese lay-sister in the kitchen
And polish the brass fenders every day.
I want to lie awake at night
Listening to cream crawling to the top of the jug
And the water lying soft in the cistern.
I want to see an orchard where the trees grow in straight lines
and the yellow fox finds shelter between the navy-blue trunks,
Where it gets dark early in summer
And the apple-blossom is allowed to wither on the bough.
soft and regular, the papery flutter
rhythmic on the mat. Not unlike
grey tides licking sand. Waking
is water leaking in; the stuff
out there wobbles and swells
and settles grudgingly into a dryish
daytime shape. And the letters
leaking in resolve themselves
as the dry short breaths
of a nextdoor body, finding
its way out of the night
into slow breakfast time,
the food, the light, a few words,
and the apprehensive, unavoidable
opening of envelopes.
A humble request
I can’t come in.
My life was –
if I could just
sit outside the gates
for a few minutes
and listen to the music?
precious; it was the barn, and the shed,
and the windmill, my hands, the crack
Arlie made in the ax handle: oh, let me stay
here humbly, forgotten, to rejoice in it all;
let the sun casually rise and set.
If I have not found the right place,
teach me; for somewhere inside, the clods are
vaulted mansions, lines through the barn sing
for the saints forever, the shed and windmill
rear so glorious the sun shudders like a gong.
Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach to their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.
It is our only friend.
bare feet and those little rolls of fat
in the places where you bend,
what might you become?
You haven’t met French yet, never
read a poem, never been all the way down
to the bottom of the garden;
you haven’t a scar like a little sickle
on your right shin, or hair that curls.
Never sat an exam.
Never swum in the sea.
Is it possible, then, that you might become me?
right to schooling and to flowers.
My personal revenge will be this song
bursting for you with no more fears.
My personal revenge will be to make you the goodness in my
implacable in combat always
generous and firm in victory.
My personal revenge will be to greet you 'Good morning!' in streets
with no beggar when instead of locking you inside
they say, 'Don't look so sad.'
When you, the torturer,
daren't lift your head.
My personal revenge will be to give you these hands you once
with all their tenderness intact
translated by Dinah Livingstone
Ode to a Pythian Athlete
and then falls to the ground,
shaken by adversity.
What is man? What is he not?
Frail being of a day,
uncertain shadow of a dream.
But when the light of heaven falls upon him
His life glows with joy.
Images reproduced under licence.
For full acknowledgements please see Distilling Lives, ReSource 2012.