Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, January 31, 2005

Every Devotion Dreams It's Cross (Jan. 29, 2005)

For all my voyaging
home is here, on this
sterile black rock
exposed too fatally
to sea and sky, with
every bruised angel
of third heaven
winging round its heart.
Here I am as naked
as the stone washed
by salt immensity,
awed and silenced
by your wild presence
most absent in all
I see and say. How did
I come to make this
chair southwest of
every bed we shared,
to make of my without
an oratory of drowned
prayer? Yet where
else can I see you
better than perched
high on this grave-marker,
the last proud stone
to recall that sea
where kisses mined
infinity and abysms
wombed the oldest
song I’ve yet to find?
Every devotion dreams
its cross, a spread atop
a hill of skulls
exposed to devouring
winds; the heart flung wide
with its ecstatic Yes
to every sea-wolf
and polar hammer of wind
to batter a bed’s high
promontory. On Skellig
Michael the pilgrimage
begins at wells before
the mount, the ache sent
down before the awful
climb along a narrow
stair which threads a
tight chasm called The
Needle’s Eye. From thence
the perilous walk across
that ledge known as the
Stone of Pain where one
step false to you is
a scream straight down
to doom. Still more is
required of the pilgrim
who then stops at
The Eagle’s Nest to touch
the stone cross which reaches
like a throat to heaven
but cannot say the
words, not yet, perhaps
never. Here the
one who reach his
beloved must crawl
along the last ledge
some 500 feet above
the cold sea-mash,
there to kiss the cross
etched in the rock.
Press warm lips there
to Manan’s last trace,
like a cross between
blue breasts I’ll never
see or kiss again.
All who dare to
name you must harrow
here all words in
brute travail, crucifying
every billow and drowse
atop Michael’s mount
of oldest stone. How
else can desire
mate its bliss
than to summit
the absolute without
and there there
still find the ghost
of a face to kiss?


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