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featured poet, Ruth O’Callaghan


Ruth O'Callaghan photo

 

Witness

We had heard the dove’s three notes and seen
the curve of light against a naive sky, smelt
 
unguent from crushed palms beneath our feet
and were caught between hosanna and crucifixion.
 
Knowing what was written we were afraid
of what might be demanded, wary of that we might discover
 
beyond birth. So, yes, we did travel slowly, each decision
an indecision, each suggestion once, twice, questioned
 
but at the first snow-melt we began our journey,
followed rivers in full flood from the abundance that ice
 
had borne through winter’s keep, had, at the hint
of a reluctant spring, chosen, if choice were possible,
 
release. Of course, dying framed the silence.
There was the call of one reaching out for the comforting
 
cry of another, the hand held, a touch,
though all were beyond the reach of language, beyond
 
those small hypocrisies of death. The first true birth.
The knot cut close.
 
For what is the past but the scar of other centuries, a spike
of time to beat against locked doors? And who will dare
 
to open to the stranger whose words are differently chosen,
whose promise is exemption? Yet, unhope,
 
framing the silence, clings tight as a caul and krumholz*
smothers abandoned gardens
 
where those who have sown thought falter. Perhaps,
only the blind man, he who rocks at the edge of the known,
 
his world a long cane’s length, may pierce those dark tangles,
may witness what is written.
 
But who would believe in the word of the unseeing?
Or know in the unseen is the silence unheard?
 
Though when the bleed of shadow behind the sun
darkened the sky
 
we held fast to the charred end of that day,
knew the cry was the pith reluctant to release the flesh.
 
And still we failed, unprepared
for linen unwound, the re-composition, sheltered by stone.
 
 
 
*krumholz – dark tangles of dwarf hemlock
 

Ruth O’Callaghan

in collection The Silence Unheard, 2013, Shoestring Press,
ISBN 978-1-9073566-5-0