Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, December 17, 2004

St. Michael and Manannan (1995)

based on the drawing by William Blake
of St. Michael binding Satan

1. St. Michael to Manannan

He was part of the darkness
that was once my own.
But you bid me rise
so many leagues
that he became
my abandoned depth.
I think of him now
like the amputee
who wakes cupping
a breast in the dream
of a trembling hand.

Once he tried
to drag me home
and we fought halfway
to the bottom of the sea.
As we wrestled
my hair grew white
and his eyes
slit to dragon coals.
The waters
boiled round us
in a terrible swirl,
chasing sea
beasts to the broken
porches of Atlantis.

When I finally
broke his hold
and fettered him
in your chains,
his face sank
the thousand
leagues of grief.
Often these days
I think of him
disappearing into
those silt shadows.
My heart at least
has never been a blade.

You've built your walls
and towers now,
demanding a new
heaven of Gothic stone.
But understand
that each time
I intercede for you
and jam my white
sword in to
the bloody hilt,
an ancient narwhal
suddenly breaks
the sea to pierce
God in the back.

2. Manannan to St. Michael

When the last lock
snapped into
the links of doom
and he rose like
a white sword
to the sky,
I fell into deep
chill moodier
than any fairy spell.
The waters darkened
about me in a cloak
that forever hid
me from your view.

To me you portioned
hoof and horn,
the least parts of
the king's stag.
You paupered
my waves with
cunning boats.
Banished from
the cities to hide in
distant hills and islands,
I became a sleek
captain of absence,
forced to ply my
trade in dream
and sensual smoke.
My gold meadows
blazed to stubbled char.

I understand
that every time
I meet him the white
sword wins all.
Ah, but if you only
understood how those
losses make me strong!
I ripen on a vine that curls
about your sickness,
sorrow and death.

If you would only love
the gall now chilling
into winter, the gates
of my damnation
would forever close.

Perhaps then
the white prince
and I could resume
our song upon that
apple branch
where the fruit is
sweet and cold
and heavy as sleep,
where each bite
fills the mouth with moon,
and the juice runs darkly
down God's uncertain smile
the way eternal lovers
find the greatest grace
exactly where they fail.


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