Stride Magazine -


We forget with the steps we walk
that what has passed has still to be told,
still to be heard, to be found in a voice
like a knife thrust in to the hilt and twisted.

We finish with time
before it is drowned in thought,
just when it is pretending to be already dead.

Burning, the seconds hope for weakness,
uselessly imagining the golden larks could come
to warn of suicide and shame,
to see the possibility of horror,
to wake all lost innocence as is found.

Yet, any of us could have had the heart to call out
before it was gone to where we can never know…


There were fantasies that gave our explanations
an inconceivable, but visible truth everybody
knew from angle to corner – confused all the more
for being forgiven the wit thereafter answered –
and there were many paths we could have revealed
had we known that, without them, innocence was gone.

There were mirages to make the moment last until dawn
and virgin time to be known as a square to be rescued from,
with our fake resistance and reticence barely protecting
us from the embarassment of repeated blame and delirium,
so young were we to bear the shock of first love declared -
first love the only love contrary enough to be never foretold.


had to be
was –
every naked cause,
every possible misfortune –
like a distant declaration of participation.

there was
went –
without seeing the whole
as safe from a future of hesitation –
as if ruined by always being frightened to die.

there is
is just as before –
except it is only now,
with almost a lifetime been and gone,
that I find fate to be something to be believed.


The golden larks never come and all of us smell
the heaviness of pain in the drowsiness of morning.

So, as family, we confess and repent, phrase by
literal phrase, each unopened memory we hide,

speaking of change, convinced time must, again,
be dismissed as a trick of mother sun and sister soul.

That so many fluttering birds should have vanished
is never forgotten – the thought never abandoned.

We can only fake a certain feverish sweat to go on
living when the truth, so often, has lacked the glow

of proof, of a fleeting peace – our pretending so
real as to be taken without the slightest uncertainty.


We can only roll
the minutes,
later and later,
into the embers
of a blood moon:

without sleep;

without ever
having been
done with the years
of empty mourning;

anxious to find
the shadow of roots
we left for dead
in a conceited age
of howling indignation;

an age of wounds and cloud.


But to have thought
the golden larks would come
is as absurd as to ask
a face in shadow
to shape the years before us:

as madly unstitched
in a steaming delirium,
in the moment exposed,
as to believe in the lucidity
of love over all else told.

To think at all
is to have stumbled
upon a sleeping blessing,
the ephemeral encounter
with a mind unbarred:

and with senses open
to the silence of years
dripping with resolve,
to think at all
is to want to be told.


But, if you steer me now into the backwoods
of routine and duty, then neither of us
would be beginning to sacrifice intentions,
neither of us would be going to leave,
to be together no more,
to be gone,
nothing to one another:

we would still be here, holding off, resisting
the worst of the knives-in-the-back we receive.

And people’s names are called, over and over,
everyone waiting their time
in pretexts sunk like cargo in a harbour,
there, but not, not even now
as under its salt-blanket of sea
it twins peace
with a certain suspicion:

we have slowly learned to believe nobody and
answer only to our own embarassment at living.


We have slowly learned that stone on steel
would never have been so well heard by so few
had it not been for being forgotten by so many;

and, since, nothing we have remembered
has been found hung on the door in the night,
as if proof in ink of the need for a line to be there.

The beating remorse for an imagined name
we had thought stopped, eyes full of tears,
still tears pure gold from our confusion, written

in sweat from the surrender of our defence
and said in a trembling word without anybody
answering the questions we had borrowed from time.

But, until the end, when we reach the horizon
and can pause to receive the fruit of a lifetime
of motives, fruit we had never thought to be eating –

until then, we are left loaded, recalling only
that what has passed has still to be told,
still to be heard, to be found in a voice in the rain.


We finish with time
before it is drowned in thought,
just when it is pretending to be already dead;

for, if nothing else, we know
the golden larks will not come.


                   © John Mingay 2002