Shifting Boundaries

 Schubert Serenade

The Feeding of the 5000
 Daniel Bonnell

The Five Thousand by Eularia Clarke

"For poems are not words, after all, 
but fires for the cold, 
ropes let down to the lost, 
something as necessary as bread
 in the pockets of the hungry.”
 Mary Oliver
Michael O'Siadhail
I bring my basketful to serve
Our table. Everything mine is yours.
Everything. Without reserve.

Poems to which I still revert.

Gauguin. Matisse. Renoir’s pear-shaped women.
Music I’ve heard. Blessed Schubert.

Ecstasies I’ll never understand –
Mandelstam’s instants of splendour, the world
A plain apple in his hand.

Lost faces. Those whose heirs
I was. My print-out of their genes,
Seed and breed of forbears.

Whatever I’ve become – courtesy
Of lovers, friends or friends of friends.

All those traces in me.

The living and dead. My sum
Of being. A host open and woundable.
Here I am!

Tiny as a firefly under the night sky,
We try to imagine stars that travel
Two million light years to reach the eye.

Long ago on a stormy and starless night
Old people used to keep a half-door opened,
Anyone passing could make for the light.

The Russian cosmonauts leaving after them
Bread and salt for the next to dock
At the station. Small symbols of welcome.
Who’s that outsider waiting for you?

We try to imagine how destinies unravel
Across the years towards their rendezvous.

A space for wanderers, lone or dispossessed.
At this table we’ve laid one empty place,
That old courtesy for the missing guest.

Never again just this.
Once-off. Ongoing wistfulness.
Wine loosening through my thighs.
Closeness. Our sudden huddle of intimacy.
These hours we’re citizens of paradise.

A nourishment of senses.
Such fierce delight tenses
Between affections and the moments
When, like a theatre after its applause,
This house will fall again to silence.

Let gaieties outweigh
Their own misgivings. Emigré
And native, my desire attends
The moment in and out of time
Which even when it ceases never ends.

I feed on such courtesy.
These guests keep countenancing me.
Mine always mine. This complicity
Of faces, companions, breadbreakers.
You and you and you. My fragile city.

From A Fragile City

 Michael O' Siadhail wrote this next poem for his wife -- but in many ways he says it applies to all relationships of love--spouse, family, friends, neighbours and maybe even strangers in need -- all those whom we have been called to love.

Out of the Blue
Nothing can explain this adventure -- let’s say a quirk

of fortune steered us together -- we made our covenants,

began this odyssey of ours, by hunch & guesswork,

a blind date where foolish love consented in advance.

No, my beloved, neither knew what lay behind the frontiers.

You told me once you hesitated:  A needle can waver,

then fix on its pole; I am still after many years

baffled that the needle’s gift dipped in my favor.

Should I dare to be so lucky?  Is it a dream?

Suddenly in the commonplace that first amazement seizes

me all over again -- a freak twist to the theme

subtle jazz of the new familiar, trip of surprises.

Gratuitous, beyond our fathom, both binding and freeing,   

this love re-invades us, shifts the boundaries of our being.

Micheal O’Siadhail From 
Hail ! Madam Jazz
Those last two lines carry so much beauty..

Was this not Christ's whole life's mission ?-  asking us always and ever to shift the boundaries of our judgemental nature and let love, mercy and compassion reinvade us ?

 by John Reilly
 Image source

Let a Place be Made

Let a place be made for the one who draws near,
the one who is deprived of any home,

tempted by the sound of a lamp, by the lit
threshold of a solitary house.

And if he is still exhausted, full of anguish,
say again for him the words that heal.

What does his heart which once was silence need
if not those words which are both sigh and prayer,

like a fire caught sight of in the sudden night,
like the table glimpsed in a poor house?

Yves Bonnefoy (trs. Anthony Rudolf)
European Poems on the Underground

Austria Graz, St Vincent de Paul with Poor at Table
Image source

Just as I was finishing this post I came across this, via a friend's FB page .

 Click here for an article which makes me think how sanitised a vision some people have of Christ's message. H/T to Claire Bangasser for article.

Both poems by Michael O' Siadhail from here

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