Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Poem 006

Isaiah 55:11
...so the word that goes from my mouth
does not return to me empty...


I am young and old and not of heaven;
My little becomes less though more is given.
A breath returns in secret thoughts of time
To a God for whose eternal mind
We are unknowing, we are dark unknown;
Somewhere he is praying to us alone,
Whose prayer is always to follow a breath
Through our burning tides of birth and death,
And we are the dark night of his deep soul,
A raw love, infinite and unconsoled.

I am young and old and not of heaven;
My little becomes less though more is given.
Breaths of my flesh, I count breaths from that fire,
Count them, respire, suspire, inspire, expire,
I count breaths of my flesh, breaths of his flesh,
Fire of my flesh, fire from him fresh,
Guttering, guttering always in time,
And never again in this world the fire of his mind.
Beyond the choices of a perfect love,
We love badly, love still, still we are loved,
Though breath is unfelt, that fire without flame,
Who has chosen never to be the same,
Or twice to love without new creation,
New fall, new prophets, new crucifixion,
To find new darkness in his darkened prayer,
The virtue of God to teach himself despair.

I am young and old and not of heaven;
His little becomes less, no more is given.
In my flesh I have breathed his last breaths,
I have counted one by one his slow deaths,
I have heard him gasp the thick syllables
Of a psalm, heard the slow bell ring knell
Upon knell in the season of his loss,
As the eyes of heaven closed on that cross,
The fire dead, the breath gone, the body cold
Heaven breathing away the broken soul.
The silence of God's prayer is agony,
In silence he is weeping bitterly,
For he cannot rejoint the twisted bones
Of Christ after Christ who must die alone,
And all his love is less than he intends:
Compassion is unbearable in the end.

I am young and old and not of heaven;
My little becomes less though more is given.
He bears alone as I could never bear
The slow duration of a weary prayer;
It goes ages in flame, ages in ash,
Recurring visions from a distant past,
The heat of breathing, the cold of time,
And his eyes more perfect if they were blind;
He pities though he may not touch the pain,
Dissolution, lives that will not come again
Into this world which alone has taught life
To the red clay, the chipped edge of the stone knife,
As the universe gave one moment
For evolution, each breath and movement,
Before the accidental mass was stirred
And only pity might recall the world.
Human pity passes, it will always end
In a distraction; it will always spend
Its force in time, though he must suffer
Without hope of time: he will remember.

I am young and old and not of heaven:
I shall live for he has known me living;
He has torn down heaven for our sake.
We shall die, we shall die, we shall never wake
In this flesh or in these bones or in this world,
But in that mind we will be remembered,
Who remembers all things, God of the living,
Our little no less for all is given.

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Richard Greene of Cobourg, Ontario won the Governor General's Award for Poetry for his collection Boxing the Compass (2009). He teaches at University of Toronto, Mississauga. "Isaiah 55:11" previously appeared in Acumen Magazine, and in Richard's 1994 collection Republic of Solitude. Visit Kingdom Poets to find out more.