To Alexander Graham
By W.S. Graham
Lying asleep walking
Last night I met my father
Who seemed pleased to see me.
He wanted to speak. I saw
His mouth saying something
But the dream had no sound.
We were surrounded by
Laid-up paddle steamers
In The Old Quay in Greenock .
I smelt the tar and the ropes.
It seemed that I was standing
Beside the big iron cannon
The tugs used to tie up to
When I was a boy. I turned
To see Dad standing just
Across the causeway under
That one lamp they keep on.
He recognised me immediately.
I could see that. He was
The handsome, same age
With his good brows as when
He would take me on Sundays
Saying we’ll go for a walk.
Dad, what am I doing here?
What is it I am doing now?
Are you proud of me?
Going away, I knew
You wanted to tell me something.
You stopped and almost turned back
To say something. My father,
I try to be the best
In you you give me always.
Lying asleep turning
Round in the quay-lit dark
It was my father standing
As real as life. I smelt
The quay’s tar and the ropes.
I think he wanted to speak.
But the dream had no sound.
I think I must have loved him.
by Kerrie Hardie
I used to wait for the flowers,
my pleasure reposed on them.
Now I like plants before they get to the blossom.
Leafy ones – foxgloves, comfrey, delphiniums –
fleshy tiers of strong leaves pushing up
into air grown daily lighter and more sheened
with bright dust like the eyeshadow
that tall young woman in the bookshop wears,
its shimmer and crumble on her white lids.
The washing sways on the line, the sparrows pull
at the heaps of drying weeds that I’ve left around.
Perhaps this is middle age. Untidy, unfinished,
knowing there’ll never be time now to finish,
liking the plants – their strong lives –
not caring about flowers, sitting in weeds
to write things down, look at things,
watching the sway of shirts on the line,
the cloth filtering light.
I know more or less
how to live through my life now.
But I want to know how to live what’s left
with my eyes open and my hands open;
I want to stand at the door in the rain
listening, sniffing, gaping.
Fearful and joyous,
like an idiot before God.
From “Meditation”by Teilhard de Chardin (French) c.1881
is the free and imaginative outflowing
of the Spirit over all unexplored paths.
It links those
who love in bonds that unite,
but do not destroy, causing them to discover in their mutual contact
an exultation capable of stirring in the very core
of their being all that they possess
of ‘uniqueness’ and ‘creative’ power.
can unite living beings
so as to complete and fulfill them,
for it alone joins them by what is deepest
in themselves. All we need
is to imagine our ability to love
developing until it embraces the totality
of the people of the Earth.
this transformation of love is quite possible.
What paralyzes life is failure to believe
And failure to dare.
The day will come when,
after harnessing space,
We shall harness for God the energies of love.
And, on that day, for the second time
in the history of the world,
we shall have discovered fire.
by Margaret Atwood
(from Morning in the Burned House)
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.