Threnody on a Parting of the Waters
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea
The wind blown waters parted
and the Red Sea turned upside down.
Sucked into this watery vortex,
birds hurtled from sheltering clouds,
serrated pallid bill and feathered brown carapace
entwined with black pinioned hood
and narrow blood scarlet beak,
white-eyed gull and brown booby fallen as one
in a fragile unpremeditated sacrifice.
Striped angel fish flew high into the troubled air,
whirling and dancing in a crazy spiral.
Piebald manta rays soared and shimmered into the sky,
and like ragged broken parachutes
fluttered gently down onto hard spiked coral,
stranded now by the primordial waves
retreating across the shallow ocean floor.
Along this path of feather, blood and bone,
went the Israelites full of hope,
going to Canaan, the land of milk and honey
long promised by their Lord.
No psalms of lamentation were sung
for the passing of brown booby and angel fish,
manta ray and white-eyed gull,
no mourning for the creatures of water and air -
secret victims of an ineffable power,
or of the vagaries of a mighty storm.
In the reed beds only the wind sighed,
while the dark clouds of a moonless night
stripped outer space of every shadow,
and with these weeping veils overhung the stars.
Silent flutes played a Lux aeterna for them,
and thus they were remembered.
08 March 2012
Half Full or Half Empty?
When you go down to the shore’s edge my friends, what do you see?
1st Voice: I see rock pools full of storm dirty grey water,
red plastic rubbished, crumpled and torn,
a sightless fish stripped stark ugly to the bone,
thong weed fronds garishly slimy bright,
viridian treachery of algae paths underfoot.
2nd Voice: I see rock pools teeming with microcosmic new life,
a sweet peony shore-blown to its resting place,
a delicate skeleton marvellous in its symmetry,
kelp and bladder wrack decorating the sands,
green algae finely patterned against the rocks.
1st Voice: I see men with faces harsh with bleak despair
mirrored in a sky dark with swirling clouds,
tearful children grapple with sharp edged rain,
small boats founder amongst scum tipped waves
in an ocean polluted by an uncaring world.
2nd Voice: I see men take to the sea beneath the dark sky,
speeding their orange craft through the pounding waves
to recover the small boats’ foundering,
and children laugh as they pit their small strength
against the whirling rain’s boisterous battle cry.
1st Voice: I see a thousand fall exhausted on this sad shore,
and the poisoned ocean give up its dead
to a land dying of neglect under a fiery sun,
men and children lost to a cruel oblivion,
and my glass half empty dashed against the rocks.
2nd Voice: I see a shining time laid out before us,
life and love prevailing the shore lives again,
our glasses half full shall be replenished,
our land once desolate will blossom anew
and a great Te Deum fill the wide sky with glory.