There is a road to take,
a solution to the wilderness
independent of the weather, a destination
in the bell note spray
of Angelus from the tower.
Saints’ lives fired into the glass
dapple walls in scarlet,
light’s ladder from the dark.
The mind turns to see it,
to take part in what is seen.
The text swims through the sun,
across a pulpit carved in creatures
a stain of rainbow, on cold stone
and sherbet silks the Word,
the oak-jut commonplace Te Deum.
Before a star grows cold,
it swells across our puny registers,
at first a warmth on upturned faces,
then the fusion’s stalking
leopard livery and goodbye.
Life is improvised.
After days that are one day
with nights hanging either end untended,
even the grit of paradise assumes
a sweetness, a supple pulp of pear.
We name this hour burning dove,
predicting heaven through migration,
through the curvature of seasons
when flights return. Pink in expectation,
corpses rise and walk among us.
We address the slough of each life,
life enough to line in lead
and fetch with lacquered brass.
The wards are full of plans. The earth, too,
heaves with index and subscription.
We are waiting, bus queues and careers
the years pare down to elemental causes,
the enzyme zing, amino entourage
prodded into rose beds, hue
and perfume forged in ashy stacks.
The universe dismembers a billion stars,
still light leaks outwards first and last.
The sun’s instructions to the leaf
extend the shade at noon.
This is the sound of our next breath.
These stones were dressed by artisans,
the edges squared to lost seams
balancing the split-tree buttress.
In the font, the spill of ghosts is raised
from springs, a fill of ancient weather.
The medicine grain of faces opens
in the damp, alcoves suited to disciples
and a sculpted peace. The earth is seeded
with compass points, the maps made ready,
and our sense of setting-out restored.
There is no will without regret, no cushion
without compromise, each decorous moment
sheared for découpage.
The world knows wood and iron.
The world instructs itself in pain.
We are without distance
until we ask, how far. The meanness
of bone is with us, and the apparatus
of machines that scours the heart.
We name this hour burning dove.
Walking in this dusk
that is neither the failed light of the sun
nor the moon’s intention at the full,
we recognise the earth,
its stubbornness of curve and axis.
From the eaves of the apostles, bat shapes
flit and tumble soft as willow catkins.
Membrane wings manoeuvre to the spark
of fire flies, the pinprick diamond echoes
returning through the dark.