Hints of Heaven

On Returning to Writing


Too long, I cried. Too long!
Beneath the ground
I’ve left this treasure
Buried
Where it could not be found
Or cause displeasure.


In other ways
I thought to please
But found no ease
Until
Like bulbs in winter through the snow
Began to grow
Renewed desire in tender shoot 
Not dead but dormant, taking root,
And drawing from its sweet supply
A richness broad and deep and high
God-given without measure.


For child, you said, You see I give
Not for destruction but to live
Within you
As you draw from me
That what you have others might see
And what you learn others might know
Then feeding from it start to grow,
Breaking the bonds that hold them till,
Conformed in pattern to my will,
Their lives take on the form and grace
Of leaf and flower each in place
And, each in season, bud and fruit,
Seeds without number taking root.
For life I give no tomb can hold
But multiplies a thousandfold
The storehouse of my treasure.


27/2/1992
I’m Loved by a King


I’m loved by a king!
Who would believe it?
A king has given his life for me.
He humbled himself
And suffered rejection
So I could be with him eternally.
He gave up his life
And poured out forgiveness
Took all of my sins and washed them away,
Then clothed me in righteousness
Pure and resplendent
To save me from suffering the price I should pay.


So what can I tell him?
My heart’s overflowing
With thankfulness, wonder, that he should love me.
And what can I give him
How ever repay him
From just condemnation for setting me free?
There’s nothing I can say
And nothing I can give
(No words, deeds or tributes could ever repay)
Except to say, Take me,
Do what you will with me
In all that I am, Lord, have your own way.


c.1990
The Smell of Love


The morning air smells of things past:
grass wet with yesterday’s rain,
sheep’s urine, last year’s leaves
limp like tissue paper,
the woody scent of conifers, 
and from the dark shrubbery
something fresh and clean
like cucumbers cut open.


My lover smells of sea-kissed islands:
sun-warm rocks with lizards darting, 
aniseed, honey, vines, 
pistachios, resin,
olives, wood fires, the cheese of goats,
the soil he has sprung from,
been nourished by,
and will return to one day.


Do I carry scents of my own roots?
damp grass, shaded lanes in summer,
furred mosses, lichens,
mist rising from the moors,
fragrant purple bells of heather,
tree-bending, salt-whipping winds,
mud and puddles touched by
the steady patter of rain.

If it were hate

If it were hate it would be easier,
This dull, dead darkness.
If it were hate it would at least be an emotion,
Tangible, vital, sensient.
But this, this nothingness,
This is a tree blasted by lightning,
Left standing but lifeless.
This is the deep darkness of winter
Where sap has retreated and dried.
This, this is emptiness,
Hollow, craving to be filled –
The absence of love.
Aegean Elegy


Where are you now?
Are you lying deep in the underworld
Ferried across by Chiron?
Or did you soar heavenwards 
With the first fireworks of the Orthodox Easter,
Cleansed of all impurities
Renewed
With resurrection body even more beautiful
If that were possible
Than the one wrought of flesh and blood and sinew?
Have your bones been picked clean by worms,
Wrapped in a white cloth and
Stored in an ossuary?
Did women wail for you
Mourn
Tear their hair and their clothing?
Or did you drop to the bottom
Of the ocean
To be feasted on by fish 
Like divers discovering treasure,
Picking out your eyeballs,
Growing fat on choice morsels of your flesh?


More likely, knowing you,
You’re out there after all
Taking your post-coital nap,
Someone else’s hand tracing the contours of your back,
Threading her fingers through hair that twists and loops
Damp with sweat
As you doze with your head on her breasts.


But if you’re dreaming, dream of me
I dare you.
Dream that we’re young again
That it didn’t really happen
It never came
That letter saying I had another.
Dream that we’re flying together
Through the clouds above Athens.
(Even in the Aegean there are clouds in winter
Aren’t there?)
As we soar out into the sunshine,
The year turning irrevocably 
On its axis into spring,
And skim across the sea and over the islands
Set like jewels beneath us,
Out over Egina and on towards Ydra -
There the breeze drops
And your heart stops -
Doesn’t it?
As you look down on the hillside by the cove and think
That’s where we lay together under the brilliant sky
Lost in our arrogance and our innocence
The summer we turned
Eros into Agape.


I still dream of you
Yearn to recapture what’s slipped
From our grasp.
But now I’ve found you
Your silence 
Is worse than harsh words,
Your rejection
A just punishment,
But colder
Far colder
Than death.
PLUMBING PROBLEMS
(written on the Love Story Module of the Bath Spa MA)


Up in my first floor flat
The buzzer jolts me from my love story. 
Downstairs the intercom crackles.
‘It’s Mart, the plumber.’
I let you in. Those Somerset vowels
And rounded rs give me palpitations. 
Half way upstairs 
You see me in the doorway
And almost stop. 
I glimpse wild hair, bright eyes, lithe frame
And something lean and hungry 
In the look you give me. 
Inside the narrow hall our eyes connect.
I blurt the words: 
‘My tap is stuck. The water doesn’t flow.’
You fish for something in the pocket 
Of your combat trousers. 
I watch, transfixed.
You test the tap and turn to me. 
‘I’ll have to get my tools.’ 
I smile politely. Please do.
Get all of them. 
When you return you push 
Both sleeves above your elbows –
Grey sweatshirt with a flash of silver
Round your neck.
Head tells me this is madness,
Hormones argue something else. 
We almost touch. 
‘Sorry!’
This bathroom’s much too small for two of us. 
Across the hall I try to write
But can’t. Not love. Not now! 
From where I sit I hear a sudden gush of water.
I draw in breath. 
As you appear your eyes take in 
My script, the pastel drawing of a halved banana 
and Lolita on the futon.
‘All fixed,’ you say.
Your fingers hold a complicated tube
Ridged with threads. 
‘Sometimes they get worn out.’ 
Me too, I think.
‘And then you need a new one.’ 
Yes, well.
We start to talk, the usual trivia.
‘Yes, I’ve just moved here. You?’
‘Grew up here. Lived here all my life.’
The balance wavers – head or hormones?
Head wins. I’ve got too many problems 
That can’t be fixed as easily
As an old tap.