What Goes Unsaid

In each mind, even the most candid,
there are forests, where needled haze overshadows
the slippery duff and patches of snow long-frozen,
or else where mangroves, proliferant, vine-entwisted,
loom over warm mud that slowly bubbles.
In these forests there live certain events, shards
of memory, scraps of once-heard lore, intimations
once familiar – some painful, shameful, some
drably or laughably inconsequent, others
thoughts that the thinker
could never hold fast and begin to tell.
And some – a few – that are noble, tender,
and so complete in themselves, they had
no need of saying.

            There they dwell,
no sky above them, resting
like dragonflies on the dense air, or nested
on inaccessible twigs.
It is right that there are these secrets
(even the weightless ones have perhaps
some part to play in the inconceivable whole)
and these forests; privacies
and the deep terrain to receive them.
Right that they rise at times to our ken,
and are acknowledged.


and other excerpts…


Primal speech

If there’s an Ur-language still among us…
then it’s the exclamation,
universal whatever the sound, the triumphant,
wondering, infant utterance, ‘This! This!’,
showing and proffering the thing, anything,
the affirmation even before the naming.




Primary Wonder

…once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the thong’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.




The Servant Girl at Emmaus

…Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognise yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,

swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.