We are back.
We are back from that plane where
a plus b faithfully equals c,
and the map is accurate and
can be matched to the landscape around you,
a thin finger following the lanes,
swivel and you’ll see chapels and monuments.
We are back from that domain
where there are no anomalies of time,
and each day is spent rapt by
spreadsheets and whiteboards,
between safe drives that return you to
the same cut lawn and house
of muted shades as everybody else.
We are back from that vale where no tears
are shed, because there is no sadness,
and no-one dwells on that cold
December morning when,
as the choir and organist were paid,
we were led uphill and went at last
beyond the gates and into clarity.
But we asked God to come back,
and our plea was answered. And though
our bodies by the road told us soon
we would be taken to the rise again,
that day we had slipped the hand of paradise,
and loved, as truants do, this strange and dangerous
unruled place, because, before the funeral
we were back, and free to roam, we thought.
But whichever route we tried returned
us to the accident’s black scars,
and headlights passed, dusks, dawns,
until the distant choir was warming up
and then their final note was done, and our waiting
guides were gone. It was too late, and
we couldn’t get back, and now the only ones
who witness us are small children,
who ward us off with palms to glass,
and those rare walking souls
who, shaken, see us in the night
and won’t forget until their death
that something here survives, while for the rest
our being back means just an unmown verge.
So, as winter comes we whisper the words
of this our December hymn, because
we wonder if we miss that other world,
but then remind ourselves that once
we prayed for this escape, and give thanks,
in our fashion, we are back.