The grinding grows low.
The windows grow dim.
The grasshopper grows heavy
and drags itself
The legs grow weary.
The dust grows ready.
And the church stands empty.
I saw video once
of mating jaguars.
The slow approach
they feared each other.
The ferocity of the male’s snarl
when he mounted her prostrate form.
Her claws, rendering the earth — his teeth,
fastened around the base of her neck, piercing,
their haunches, rankling, bodies, trembling, climax.
He jumped off. She cast him
a look of disdain and slowly slunk away
down mountain trail and through the trees —
they were nothing to each other.
I thought I could capture the world, once,
but there are too many ways
to describe sunlight filtering through trees
I thought if I could capture an ounce of the world’s beauty
I’d have it made
but beauty grows, day by day,
and I grow
feebler. If we are like candles
burning from one end but maybe two —
there is a
after all —
then the world is a bonfire.
The world stands in flames.
The world is on fire
and we have no tools and no song
to stop the burning.
I visited a place once
where ocean waves crash on sand.
Where scraggled reeds stand sentinel
and the corpses of the dead and dying
lie rotting on the shore. We crossed
you and I
from sea to sand
and picked our way along the line
while our minds danced,
the morning sun winding round our hands
and wreathing our heads about with Pentecostal flames
and charring the sand and burning the surf, the rising tide.
And when we stood on the line
and left littoral waste behind and turned
face towards sea we felt ourselves moving
and pulled by the current we became overwhelmed
and thrashing, going under, you slowly sunk
The seabirds flocked to mourn you
the osprey raised a cry
and crowned your corpse with driftwood
while I began to die. I looked at you and saw
the coldness in your eyes and did not know
and did not know
and did not know.
When I returned a ghost
you were a shipwreck splayed along the shore
your innards showing
your treasures plucked and plundered
your ribs being carried off by scavengers for homes.
It is the drowning time
the destroying time
and still I voiceless cry
and grasp for understanding.
The lilies of the field
raise their blazing heads.
They droop and wither and dry
and die before my eyes.
Bring out the crucifix,
and when it’s done
we’ll inscribe a stone as a grave
for the earth, beloved Son.
What will be will be,
It faltering said,
with sun in Its eyes
and thorns on Its head. On Calvary Hill
It bled and died
a spear in Its side.
And the grinding
the grinding grew low.
the windows grew dim.
the grasshopper stumbled and tried to fly
but with weight on its wings it fell and died.
The legs grew weary.
The dust grew ready.
And the church
the church stands empty.
A few notes on “Quartet” —
Although “Quartet” has religious undertones and draws a lot of influence from the Bible (especially the Book of Ecclesiastes), I don’t mean for it to be an overtly religious poem. Roughly speaking, I’m drawing a comparison between Jesus, whom Christians view as Savior, and the world. The poem’s message is about the damaging we’re causing to the earth, our home, and about what may happen if we don’t take care to reverse some of the damage we’ve done.
If you enjoyed “Quartet,” try more of my poetry: