Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I wrote this poem over 3 years ago, but was reminded of it when I found our family house on Google Earth street view.

Today I would have phoned -

wished to share the small

details of my life, the

safe return, the laughing

at the rain which fell

as if the Flood would come.

But had I rung the number

as familiar as my name

you would not be there.

A stranger’s voice would say

your words, and the strangeness

would be too much to bear.

And contemplating this

a glacial shifting in my soul

gave promise that in weeks not lived

the frozen tears would find the way

and spill into a distant sea like

drops into the ocean of my love.

© C.M.M.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Delville Wood

Bluebells on the parapet
Originally uploaded by goforchris
Delville Wood on the Somme was the site of a terrible battle in WW1. One tree remains from that period; the rest of the wood has grown since the carnage. It is a powerful and beautiful place.

The trees are still. The morning light
flickers through unfurled leaves
of palest green, and glances on
the random stones, each one a tale
of heroism in this wood.
The inner ear hears voices then
- the howls and oaths and sobs of pain –
and flinches from the screams of shells
which shattered trees and soil and men
when Hell’s gates opened on this place.
Now dead leaves mask the pitted soil
of crater holes among the trees
where trenches snake, grass-masked and still,
with bluebells on the parapet.
I think of sweet youth lying there
with shredded limbs and broken smiles
and as I pause, a church bell sounds
as if to give a pious hope.
But here is sacred, where I stand –
it needs no choirs, no altar-rail
but only memory, and love
and silent prayers for lives unlived
and birdsong in an empty wood.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Songs on the Somme

Graves at Louvencourt
Originally uploaded by goforchris
On a recent trip to the battlefields of the Somme, I was surprised by how natural it seemed for the group to start singing the old songs after a day of solemn remembrance and reflection. Louvencourt was one of the places where the Last Post was played at the end of our day.

The old songs echo over
undulating ground where once
shells fell. The voices too
are old, for those who
sang them new are
dead, long cold in
narrow graves. The warm air
blows the acrid scent
of golden rape, appropriately
blanketing the fields of war.
Solemnity and laughter seem
uneasy fellows till we think
of youth and daftness and sheer joy
cut down, silenced, gone – and know
that they would smile to hear us sing.
Is there an echo on the wind?
Perhaps. Sing on. Shed tears and play
your last posts where the singers sleep.

© C.M.M. 05/09

Thursday, March 26, 2009


In me. Deep in my
soul. Not near, not
present, but closer than
the voices that surround
me day in day.
This is the Comforter
coming quietly, almost
unnoticed from the journey
through the years. No longer
with me, to smile and
look and love, but
clasped firm where death can
do no more, can never
harm again. Friend, the
long years of yearning are
past and you return, more
here than before, closer than the
kiss of parting.


Sunday, March 22, 2009


I wrote this last week for Beauty from Chaos, the Lent blog where it first appeared. An invitation to us all in this season, I felt.

Come, my children, walk with me
through this desert, through the dust,
clasp my hands – you will not fall –
and sing your sweet songs on the road;
bid your loved companions follow
where the daybreak lights the sky.
I will take you onward to
the places you could never dream
until we come to that lone hill
where trees stand black against the light,
their shadow crossed upon the sand
and there your hearts will break and mend
and come forth stronger than you knew.
No, do not weep, my child – not now;
my road will not seem hard at first
and you will know both joy and fear
until the end when through your tears
you see around you flowers of hope
and know that journey’s end is love.

© C.M.M. 03/09

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

El Teide

For Chris, who led us there and who read this so beautifully.

On a rock, the lizard is
a flicker like the flames below
- grey on red, as ash on fire –
high on the caldera’s rim.
Far below the white of snow
shows the paradox of cold
on these hot plains at Teide’s foot
but on the lip where once the fire
poured down to drown itself below
the dust of fear stirs in the soul
as shadows lengthen once again.
We are so new, so soft. So small.

©C.M.M. 02/09