2012: December Hymn

December Hymn


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.






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