I measure every Grief I meet With narrow, probing, eyes – I wonder if It weighs like Mine – Or has an Easier size. I wonder if They bore it long – Or did it just begin – I could not tell the Date of Mine – It feels so old a pain – I wonder if it hurts to live – And if They have to try – And whether – could They choose between – It would not be – to die – I note that Some – gone patient long – At length, renew their smile – An imitation of a Light That has so little Oil – I wonder if when Years have piled – Some Thousands – on the Harm – That hurt them early – such a lapse Could give them any Balm – Or would they go on aching still Through Centuries of Nerve – Enlightened to a larger Pain – In Contrast with the Love – The Grieved – are many – I am told – There is the various Cause – Death – is but one – and comes but once – And only nails the eyes – There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold – A sort they call "Despair" – There's Banishment from native Eyes – In sight of Native Air – And though I may not guess the kind – Correctly – yet to me A piercing Comfort it affords In passing Calvary – To note the fashions – of the Cross – And how they're mostly worn – Still fascinated to presume That Some – are like my own –
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the Seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
You must go deep
You must go by way of river and rockface
Squeezing yourself through the earth’s eyeslit
You must go far
Where the walls dance their spirals in the flamelight
Where your shadow goes dancing before you
On the bones of the dead in the house of dreams
You must go sacred
And the gentle claws will strip away your name
Strip hair skin strip flesh from bone
You must go naked
To the utmost chamber where they wait to receive you
And their heads are not lifted they are bowed they are lowly
Two of them caressing
As your shadow dancing caresses them
And where your finger makes its mark
There the lifeblood beats
There they spring forward out of their landscape
Where the hooves drum ecstatic
Where the world roars.
As old as I am,
I can remember nothing else,
But it wasn’t always like this.
As bold as I was,
I could never challenge them …
Their long, silver-barrelled sticks –
Spurting fire –
Left us painting the plains,
In our blood –
Many thousand bodies
Lying still as the rocks,
While many more
Uselessly paw the sky –
A sky that turns red
Behind their fading eyes …
No longer raising the dust
In storms immense …
No more watching horizons disappear –
Sunset fading before the sun, itself,
The herd roaming where it will,
Way beyond horizons,
Of choice …
Soon, there won’t even be one,
As old as I, to remember
The tales of our magnificence …
It wasn’t always like this –
I am an orphan Elephant child,
they found me wandering in the wild.
alone, confused and terrified.
I was with my mother when she died.
She fell, ripped the air with a roar
shuddered a sigh and was no more.
They took from me with rifle gun
the one who sheltered me from sun,
who guarded me with all her might,
and kept me safe all through the night,
my earth mother my guiding light.
Then they came, in plundering cries
with white gold gleam, in frenzied eyes,
I ran and hid and watched afraid
and saw the wielding, flash of blade
cut her deep, wide open flayed.
They left her there, for those that fly
encircling above in the sky,
left me there lost, wandering wild
a helpless lone Elephant child.
But kind ones came and found me there,
who kept me safe and gave me care.
I’m still afraid, can’t quite trust yet,
the past haunts me, I can’t forget.
RESTLESS BONES curated and published by ELAINE C CHRISTIE and edited by JACQUI ROWE
An anthology of poetry about the natural world and its decline. A collective voice for the voiceless. With poetry from Virginia McKenna, Born Free’s poet in residence Richard Bonfield, famous quotations, old favourites, contemporary poets, rescue dog centre, Animal Liberation Front also including beautiful fantasy art from Josephine Wall and edited by Jacqui Rowe.
All funds from the book go to Born Free USA to fight the fur trade.
Price £7.00 plus £1.80 postage Available from http://www.restlessbones.co.uk