JOURNEYMAN 2005 Wendy Webb
A hard time we had of it, our Annus Horribilis, 2005.
This was no royal condescension into the muddy depths of divorce.
though it was the common touch, the common man.
A bloody time we had of it, aborting early
before we had time to scribble New Year’s Resolutions;
dirges of foreign women and children lost,
dancing mud-sodden plagues of Tsunami.
On the third day we sealed our tomb of hope,
as faces grew like postage stamps on walls,
as ships were dumped like driftwood on mud roads,
as highways bladderwracked to cities lost
in the Kingdom of the Dead.
No tears were left unshed before the Babe of Bethlehem had fled
the massacre of infants, cradled safe in pyramids,
beneath the Sphinx with Mona Lisa smile.
The Nile, the Delta floods could not grieve more
fertility in buckets, filled each day,
in wave on wave of giving to the poor
and more, to the ends of the earth.
Much more, we raised three trees to grieve a pope
who faded, as his eyes grew ripe with pain,
who kissed hard tarmac dust of suffering
and gathered paper planes of live TV.
A hard time we had every day, though we forget
dull torture of new wars, rumours of wars,
and old wars – grieving yet – a sea of pain
that could not flood heaven’s portals with fresh tears.
We grieved for 9/11 and for 7/7
and tourists fled to paradise in hell.
We barely drank, half-naked, Beslan’s youth
before the truth’s Big Easy stormed a tide
of mud-soaked dust to flood the Crystal Sea;
the shores of Xanadu to hurricane lamps of dreams.
But was this death or birth,
the racing earth, in flights of rumoured plague?
Flee to the hills, the hills, where mountains quake
and fail when – pray – the winter falls too soon.
Then, when the cup of suffering – all dregs -
is drained, and earth, a staggering, drunken man,
lies wasted in the hangover of dawn:
this birth, this death, this final dispensation
at a highway’s crossroads in the morning light;
sweeping, sweeping, leaving dust.
Inspired by T S Eliot ‘Journey of the Magi’