Friday, 18 September 2015

To love and then to love bones under the sun

You might call it morbid but I enter this phase of life more fully cogniscent of the fact that investing in love of people in fraught with the fact in the end death will separate you. As a Christian, I don't always see that separation as final but it's still sheddingly painful. Why might we wish to take the risk in these circumstances? Is it worth it. The answer I believe is yes. Scars and craters of loss in the heart can be redeemed. The cost of not loving is the greater in the cold light of day. This poem is a reflection on that.

To love and then to love bones under the sun

The joy, spontaneity and sheer love of childhood
Wrung dry by my darkness, yours and the walls of the ditch,
Until the sunshine of those days
Fades, like a half remembered number plate.
The tent of the presence is down
Mire on the broken cords like oil spill slopps.

But the cold floor doesn't feel safe:
Cynicism is not the bottom line
In a mind
Which can't forget
Its soul conscience
And all what we know we can be
Have been.
Could be:
Whispers of chains unseen;
The bully that threatens you not to move.

Draw me a map of what happened since then
Go back through every piece of tissue remade
Trace the contours of the stream
As it makes new tracks in dire earth.
Eyes recalled from grandiosity and self hate.
Til shoots of a kinder green, out of the charred earth, reach out to the airs.
And are met anew.

A new tent that might fall over again.
It's not safe from the cold knife.
Structured around people that blow away
But if I bury my love in the earth
Til you return
My faith is in a safety I can never know
Let me leave it out on the tar,
Red pigment above ground
Where we love with no guarantees
The only kind this life under the sun will ever see

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Black starlight

We lost Dad about a year ago. It's been a hard road of grief, most days showing a new depth to the loss. So many amazing things happening all round generating that blend of joy of grief. Ever knowing and living the truth love will show the way out. Where dark blackened chambers within are revealed to be the dark earth in which new life can emerge. In Him, grief is the process which brings an increase in the capacity to love. Love to my wife, mum, Bro and to the King.

Black Starlight
A big man implodes
And leaves
An imprint of his shrinkage
And disease within.

It's a family breakdown:
A bad good Friday
Every day of this trip
Around the star

There seems no way through
The debris
Of a collapsed heart

And it ends there
If you were not the beginning
And the end

But your wound proves
A perfect fit.

We can grieve
Because your tears
And grief
Go before us

Time stands still
When grace
The wound

And you whisper:
Wisdom is love
And love is wisdom

(Dad 1 year anniversary writing)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

You can't hide your love from me

Famous for a moment. A room full of people raise their gaze to look at my wife and I as we stand up and move through the food court at OR Tambo airport, Johannesburg. 

I stand in front of people and engage with them for a living, so I get to experience all kinds of responses to my accent, appearance, behaviour and words. I feel like a good judge of whether people are warming to me or not. But just add a dash of paranoia and that's the reality of what my perception is like. 

Of course I can't properly judge what the hearts of 18 sets of eyes have concluded regarding the phenomena of an attractive black woman and a bald white guy hanging around together in an apparently non-platonic fashion. When it's just one set of eyes darting back to their friends with little mean spirited reports of the odd couple 'over there', I get the message pretty quickly. And the message I get is that those eyes believe that it is still 1984 and they will live forever. 

Multiply the number of eyes, though, and the picture is muddied. Most people are probably just curious, but oh can they stare. On the whole, Black people appear quite happy at the sight of us. Apart from the guy in Nashville who chased me down the street asking me how I had acquired an African Queen for myself.   

Sometimes the staring gets on my nerves but I maybe there's another way of looking at it. The thing is, by the grace of God my heart has developed a greater capacity for love at this point than at any time past. I am married to a funny, intelligent, beautiful, moral woman whom I deeply love. I know what it's like to be inside this love but I don't know what it looks like on the outside. Maybe it's a kind of troubling vision for love starved people. Follow the rabbit hole all the way done into prejudice and judging and what do you find? A lonely broken child who can't escape the confines of a broken nature and a broken world. 

When white loves black and black loves white in a domain where it socially virtually illegal, and when that love is obvious, I can imagine this creating a kind a temporary hell in the hearts of some. It's perhaps like being smacked in the face with the reality that what they may most deeply desire is apparently being experienced by people they regard as deviant and wrong. In a smaller way, maybe it's similar to what the Nazi's felt watching Jessie Owens win gold in Berlin. How could this not result in hatred when what they believed became so obviously untrue? 

I think I'm gonna try and be more understanding. I'm not gonna hide my love under a bush but maybe I'll try to refrain telling anyone else they have an apartheid-era mindset. If they wanna stare, may their gaze lead them into the black hole with so a clear a vision of spiritual poverty that they might turn and find the only one who can break down walls of judgment and self-hatred. A paring back that creates the space for renewal. Let deficit be turned to surplus by the grace of the one does not run out of grace during load-shedding. The Nazarene.