Much has happened this week.  Today, Remembrance Day in the UK, I am acutely aware of the importance of keeping peace between the nations, of reconciliation and forgiveness between us, of acceptance and inclusion for all.     Reconciliation, and an acknowledgement of the sacred worth of each individual human, seem further away now than they did.
This poem is a personal one, expressing something of an attempt to keep perspective among sorrows.  I know that for many, and for all of us from time to time, any such attempt can be impossible.  I wrote to try and express  what can feel like the constant task of not being overwhelmed, and to remind myself that when I can, it is worth the attempt.

I hope it also contains a gleam of hopeful truth.  Not a truth that ignores the darker realities, but that is prepared to see the possibility of light coming in the darkness. Both are real, but I find that if I can stay with the hope of dawn, even the darkness can take on a different quality.  Actions that lead to hope seem more possible, more achievable.  It is worth living for hope, not because the things we hope for will necessarily come, but at least in part because if we set our eyes on a kind and generous future, we are more likely to live in a kind and generous way now.  At least, I find that to be the case.
To all of you who are feeling a weight of sorrow, I hope this helps. May dawn come soon.


I carry stones in my arms.
They are grey,
and powder me
with dry dust.
They have sharp edges
my fingers find like
a tongue with a tooth.

When I notice,
I put them down,
stand up straight

Look, the sky is full of blue,
of high white clouds,
the trees chime with
golden pennies,
and a buzzard soars,
weightless, with its thin cry.

Look, there is one last flower
growing in the cracks,
and one last bee.

Who would have thought that losses
could be so heavy?
I find them lying on my eyes
in the dark, heavy and hot,
and on my heart and stomach,
heavy and cold.

I put them down.
Seventy times seven.
The work of Sisyphus.
Again. Again.

Look, there are stars in the darkness,
a whole Milky Way of them,
there is the softness of dawn light
coming, coming.
Take courage.
Begin again.


Photographs are from the woods above Selworthy Green, Exmoor, and the coast at Watchet.

The reference seventy times seven is to something Jesus said when asked how often we need to forgive.  I used it here for any work where painful memory or thought keeps on surfacing, and we keep laying it down. Sisyphus  refers to the Greek myth of one who repeatedly rolls a boulder up a hill, only watch it roll down again.

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