Tuesday, December 23, 2008


For Alan

That first day, the day we met,
when he lay quiet in my arms
I gazed at his small, sleeping face
and willed that he should look at me
and know. Yet when the black eyes blinked
and opened on the world I was
quite unprepared for such a dark
profound solemnity as if
this tiny boy could see into
the whole immensity of life
and claim it there, and know it his.

©C.M.M. 12/08

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent Prose revisited

I wrote this in the first week of Advent 08 after listening to the Advent Prose sung in church on Advent Sunday. The words were repeated in that morning's OT lesson from Isaiah, and by the time the reading was over the poem was already forming. It first appeared on love blooms bright

Rend the heavens, come quickly down
Can we mean it? In the dark
to ask the God to come like this
would have us tremble at the presence
sought that Sunday as we sang.
Behold, thou wast angry and we sinned -
dear God, we try, we know our sin,
we see too clearly where we are.
The veiled women weep, the bomb
explodes on distant soil:
we worry lest our own are there,
care less about the ruined lives
among the debris of our wars.
All our deeds are like a polluted garment -
hung about us in the cold
as if we fear our nakedness,
would do anything to hide.
The child dies at the hands of those
whose task is care and love
while we, appalled, avert our eyes
from innocence betrayed.
We all fade like a leaf
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away -
light little things in the face of creation
and yet, and yet ...
Lord, we continue. You have never
swept us from the face of earth.
We love and beget and children
lovely children, innocent and clean
come naked into the world
in your eternal promise of what can be.
Your Son will come, again, again
and we have hope, another chance
to use your world in precious ways
to hold your people to your face.
As tiny fingers clasp round ours
we reach into the dark and feel
the strength of love enfolding us.
The heavens are rent as if a cloud
were parted at the end of rain
and light will come too bright to tell -
we sing again. Come, Lord, and soon.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mary's baby

This poem was finished four hours before I knew that Alan, my grandson, had been born to Mary. It speaks to me of that other Mary while being about a contemporary birth - or indeed birth's miracle at any time.

For Alan John McIntosh

It is time. From deep within
my inner dark a sudden
fierce tightening calls out.
Be still, I say. Be quiet.
This child will come
will find the light
will be the light
new in my life, but now
I want to keep him close
keep him mine alone.

A huge force squeezes me again
taking me beyond the lighted space
into the dark of inwardness
focussed only on the pain
forgetting self and any joy
to come from such gigantic toil.
Someone cries inside my head
and anxious faces swim and fade
and leave my eyes alone to look
and marvel at a miracle
as something infinitely huge and small
is born, and lifted to my arms.

My heart is broken and remade.

My son looks up. His black eyes gaze
on heaven one last lingering time
before they close against my breast.
We are alone, and all the world
shrinks to a tiny, distant speck
as swelling joy fills all my soul.

I hold him close. My son is born.

©C.M.M. 28/11/08