“The chariots and horsemen of Israel”

Another preview from the collection, especially for today: Transfiguration Sunday.

The heart seeks Tabernacle:
on mountain-top, by river-bank, it longs
to settle, to hold the Presence safe,
within arm’s reach,
just the length of an Elijah’s-staff away.

Yet the false Tabernacles we weave
as curtains against truth
turn Transfiguration to self-help session
and seek double portions to allay the moment’s loss.

Day turns to night.
The chariot leaves; the mountain calls us down.
Beneath the vision’s light, what will we know
when ecstasy fades and the presence evades
our attempts at tabernacles?

In the heart’s dwelling-place when the moment is past,
will we descend to today’s implications?
When the glow recedes but the portion remains,
will we tend to the horsemen of Israel?

Why “The Swelling Year”?

When I first started writing my way through the church calendar back in 2012, I found that one English poet, John Keble, had beaten me to it in 1827. So I decided to pay tribute to him instead of trying to outdo him. The opening sequence of poems in Keble’s The Christian Year refers again and again to the way that our days and seasons “swell” with the expectancy of God’s glory. And so this seemed an apt image to use in my own cycle of poems.

In 2013, John Keble’s memorial day in the church calendar happened to fall on Good Friday. So here is a snippet from the poem that I wrote that day in memory of him:

If we could pause the swelling of our years
      Enough to let our wounds rest in his wounds,
      We might find hiding places for our shame
And tissue torn to daub up all our tears.
      There all our sorrows sound their sweetest tunes
      Within the broken triumph of his Name.

Stay tuned for more samples from The Swelling Year, and sign up to the mailing list via the “Contact” page to make sure you don’t miss any updates on the project’s progress.

Ordinary Time

Well, I’m in the throes of sorting through and collating six years of poems at the moment, and this one from 2016 struck me as fitting for both the time of year and this season of life. Stay tuned for more tasters of what will be in the anthology…

Resolution: Slow Fruit
Nothing purposed is instant. Fruit grows
first by roots spreading deep,
nutrients drawn, sunlight synthesised,
chlorophyll taking glory from green.
Look to the fig tree. If you see its buds,
Summer’s promise dangles, yet is not realised.
Tantalising, like
a kitten’s ball of yarn, or a note
waiting to resolve, a game
of slow expectancy.
New year brings blossoms
but fruit is never instant. Trees
ask for patient expectation.
Come here daily; look to leaves
yet wait before you pick.