for AM, who suggested possibilities
From the darkness that returns
each year we sing our plaintive song
and ask that God will come again
and fill our lives with what we know
and hardly know is all we need.
The fire burns low, the night is long,
and yet we feel in some way held
within the circle of this flame
that still we tend with anxious care
in some place hidden from the eyes
that mock and laugh and turn away
with restless ease towards their end.
The world too turns, and we await
the power that fills our life with light
and let our alleluias ring
within the darkness of the earth.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
A Sonnet for Jim
The rain drifts in grey curtains from the hills
and turns the loch’s black surface into lace
before a random wind takes up the chase
that now obliterates the day it kills.
The burn beside me gurgles as it fills
and overflows. There’s water on my face,
the path I followed gone without a trace,
enthusiasm drowned in sudden chills.
But as I turn to make my sodden way
to shelter, warmth …dry feet … a sudden gleam
appears. It’s like another day.
The wet rock all around me starts to steam
and birdsong cuts the air as if to say
This is Argyll. Things are not what they seem.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
|Aonach Eagach, Glencoe|
The path is steep and rocky
and my body’s growing tired.
I’m looking for the summit cairn,
the peak I hope to find -
and at the top I’ll rest awhile
and take a look around,
decide if I’ve the energy
for the track above the cloud.
For I know that there's more climbing,
there are still flowers at my feet,
but weariness keeps nagging me -
a voice I cannot cheat.
I’ve wandered far, I’ve sung my songs,
the wind is still as sweet,
but all of us are passing through
to where all pathways meet.
My track is strewn with metaphor
and words mean what you read.
We all of us hear different songs
along the roads we tread.
But looming in the distance
or rising at our feet
that final hill is where we go
and where all pathways meet.
© C.M.M. 10/16
Saturday, March 09, 2013
One pale, quiet morning,
I open my soul’s eyes
unarmed with faith or company,
responsibility or joy,
and see quite plain
the vastness of it all, the loneliness,
the very impossibility of life.
A hand in the desert -
will there be a hand?
Someone who knows the way
to travel this grey distance
and find the distant hills?
The question hangs
in the still air. But
in the birdless silence
is that the gentle ripple
not mocking or sardonic
but inviting, is that -
oh please, is that -
a companionable laugh?
© C.M. 03/13
Friday, September 21, 2012
I have walked the high places, seen
the haze in the glaciated
trough beneath my feet;
I have heard the raven’s croak
among tall crags, felt the winds
keen around my head. I have
trusted my life to a friend, sensed the
taut rope’s reassurance,
known the joy of balance
on the white path’s ribbon.
I have sensed the unseen God in
the fierce, dangerous joy, the
tension and the trust, and always,
always the wind of his breath
piling the tumultuous clouds,
sweeping the pale sky clear.
Friday, September 14, 2012
|Photo ©Fraser Shiells, by permission|
Sitting at lunch beneath the shade
we heard the gunfire - loud, sharp -
and then the growing noise of cheers
above the music of the band
and rushed to line the barricade
between us and the road.
And what came next was troubling to
the me that thinks I’m civilised
as horses clattered in the dust
and lances waved and suddenly
I saw the bulls - small, dusty, black
and gone: a swiftness barely seen
as bodies swirled and young boys clawed
and darted in among the hooves
and grabbed and cheered and strutted there.
And my blood raced in sympathy
as small dogs yapped beside my legs
and all my civilised disdain
was pulverised and lay in dust.
This was a fascinating, thrilling and ultimately disturbing experience - the more so because I had not anticipated the event. I'm grateful to my friend Fraser Shiells for his photo - the speed of everything made it hard to capture, and this moment, when one of the bulls escaped the corralling horses and headed back down the road on its own, was especially dramatic.
Friday, August 31, 2012
|Photo ©Ewan McIntosh|
Into a random dream, only half-remembered,dances the noise of -
God, it’s pipes! And it’s
three am and I’ve been sleeping but
I leap from my bed and look
out and there they are: a man,
pipes shouldered, marching along
the sleeping crescent playing
his heart out. And it’s not just the old
Scotland the Brave stuff but
an intricate shifting pattern of notes
and he’s good, good, but
far too loud for my wincing brain.
In front of this marching kilt
five figures dance
keeping time as they
make their way past the
dark houses which seem
like me not to have welcomed them
with lights, but they don’t care.
Light on their feet and lightly
rhythmic they pass on and the music sounds
more and more distant as the night
folds back and sleep floods over
the vacant echoes of the town.
This happened on the only weekend of the year when such things are, in fact, normal - Cowal Games weekend. The poem actually suggested itself to me as I was drifting back to sleep, but I've taken almost a week to get round to putting it down.