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Friday, 31 July 2009

a parrot in the church


Peering between my fingers -
same sense of guilt
as torch-lit reading late at night.
The prayer's fault, not mine,
the priest intoning
(Ah, the things
that prayers do Lord, that priests
know nothing of!)
"Lord thou hast open├ęd
mine eyes that I may see..."


there above the rood screen,
high in the chancel
(where the deity should be),
a green bird. First
                         a hawk.
Then clear enough, a parakeet,
silent and unmoving -
or else a green sponge
soaking up our prayers.
A stream of golden photons
like a rafter forms its perch.


Something deep inside
(the prayer perhaps)
makes us expendable, says
parrots will inherit
what we leave of earth.
I'm thinking it's asleep - until
I see the fear etched in its face.
Perhaps it is God after all!
Or maybe prayer created it,
like fire creating smoke.


Or could it be pure prayer,
flawless and more spiritual
than ours. Could be
the incense in the air
sustains it... Wonderful,
the way it spreads its wings now:
deep green feathers,
golden eyes,
more like a peacock
than a parakeet.


But prayer takes many forms
as words detract from meaning,
as the creature folds its wings again,
becoming sleek and streamlined
as a fish, its ocean
upside-down.
                   Eureka! When
I move my fingers it will morph.
It's final form:
a plume of green smoke
slowly thinning.

25 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

I enjoyed the imagery and metaphors embedded in this but the stand out lines for me were:

   But prayer takes many forms
   as words detract from meaning,

A lot in this one.

Tabor said...

I actually felt that I comfortably understood this poem. Some of your words require brain gymnastics but his was a dance in my mind.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Godless or not, I think we all pray.

Beautiful poem, Dave.

Shadow said...

i enjoyed your thoughts here tremendously. a bird, a spirit, a mere creature or god? doesn't matter, the worthwhile read!

Derrick said...

Hi Dave,

I especially like:

'or else a green sponge
soaking up our prayers.'

Don't worry about the award. It is enough that you have it. And occupying your time with work such as this is better.

PI said...

Just a quick pop in before I leave. I'll be back:)

steven said...

hi dave, this is such a rich poem. layered. i love the way it dances from possibility "maybe prayer created it") to probability ("then clear enough, a parakeet") and then out again into the connection between the power of the prayer and the presence of the parrot. "a plume of green smoke". a prayer spreading outwards. you are an insightful writer dave!! thanks for sharing this. have a peaceful day. steven

willow said...

I love the idea of prayer taking on the form of a bird or a fish. Lovely imagery here, Dave. And I think Wallace Stevens would like it, too.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Wonderful imagery here Dave. I think you must have been seeing things - the farmer is dead good at that - faces in clouds, figures in the embers - but then again - who knows what was making those green smoky fingers curl into those shapes - there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio...

Barry said...

Wonderful imagery here, dancing like a plume of green smoke slowly thinning...

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Dave, your latest poem here is going to make me post something of mine on Prayer, it's a too rich subject.
I love most all how the lines between parenthesis work in this poem of yours...and I generally don't like lines between parenthesis...

Cloudia said...

"But prayer takes many forms, as words detract from meaning."

A wonderous poem; streams of golden photons. Bravo, Brother Dave


Aloha-

succumb to da spiral:

Comfort Spiral

Tara said...

The power of prayer and the distraction of the mind during ramblings. If I thought I saw a parrot in church, I'd probably laugh out loud, spoiling everyone else's attempt at righteousness.

Friko said...

You start with guilt, of the child reading under the bed-clothes; a green bird becomes a sponge "soaking" up prayers; we become expendable through fire and smoke?; It is even fearful?
but no, it becomes a formless, plume of smoke, without substance.

I am a lapsed European Catholic.

ELAINE ERIG said...

To have a prayer taking on the form of a parrot is a lovely image, but - else a green sponge
soaking up our prayers-and -" dancing like a plume of green smoke slowly ". I like a lot.

Eryl Shields said...

Isn't it peculiar how one can immediately see what one likes, and doesn't, in someone else's poetry but not in one's own! Here I particularly like the rhythm that comes from your use of assonance, half rhyme and line length/breaks (I think!), also, like so many other commenters, I'm drawn to:
'else a green sponge/ soaking up our prayers' because it's such a fresh, original image, and rather took me aback.

Karen said...

I love this, Dave - the story of it, the layers of deep thought that rise like the plume of smoke. The contemplation of the prayer is more a prayer than that the priest intones.

"But prayer takes many forms
as words detract from meaning..."

Rachel Fenton said...

Flight provides such wonderful metaphors. I've read and re-read this and I cannot go away without thinking of the description of the green moth in Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion, and the image of Death in Death and the Gravedigger by Schwabe.

ken armstrong said...

A striking poem.

A saw parrots fly free in flocks in Queensland many year ago. I cannot look at one in a cage since...

lakeviewer said...

What an interesting piece, a bird distractin the prayer and adding to it. Contemplative. Both sacred and prophane.

Linda said...

As I move my fingers on the keyboard, my comments appear on the computer screen. They are in the form of black letters moving in lines across the " Leave your comment " window. Like zebra stripes in a herd, the computerized copy camoflauges the meaningingful substance of this message. That meaningful substance may disappear in the "slowly thinning" dust when the zebra herd runs away and Dave may never know how much I really loved the smokey images, the rhythmic movement and the vivid colours of his poem. Brilliant!

Dave King said...

To all
I really feel quite overwhelmed by your response to this poem. I am not sure why, but I expected a bit of controversy. Words like "beautiful" especially when applied to the imagery wwere quite unexpected. My thanks to you all. I will now, though, reply to you all individually.


Jim
They were almost the last lines composed, but tey were the crux of it for me too. Thanks. Very helpful.

Tabor
I am very touched by your reference to a dance in the mind. That is a wonderful compliment. My thenks.

Leatherdykeuk
I agree with that, I am sure we do. Thanks a lot for that.

Shadow
Thank you, you have got into the intended spirit of the poem.

Derrick
I dithered for long between "soaking up" and "absorbing". Perhaps in the end it didn 't matter. Your remark re the award exactly fits my next post! Remarkable prescience!

PI
Pop or stop, you're most welcome. Thanks for commenting.

Steven
That is a most helpful (and complimentary) comment. Many thanks.

Willow
That is magnificent compliment! Thanks is too small a word - but they all are, so thanks!

Weaver of Grass
True enough, but you were right to begin with: it is based on an early memory, which however did not take the form of any sort of bird. Very insightful of you.

Barry
Glad you liked it. Thanks Barry.

Thommaso
I sincerely hope you do post on prayer. I should very much like to read it. My6 thanks for your other comments.

Cloudia
I succumbed to da spiral a good while ago! Thanks, though.

Tara
Welcome. Many thanks for the remarks. You'd probably be doing alol a service: I think prayer could often do with a touch of laughter. It doesn't get it often enough. I do remebner one occasion when a typical Welsh Methodist minister was thanking God for sending rain and sun etc etc. he went on:- "Indeed, there have been times just recently, Lord, when we have doubted thy wisdom.. (It having been exceeding wet just recently).

Friko
I am a lapsed High Anglican / Methodist - but then I was always a heretic, so it's not surprising.

Elaine
Thanks you very much for your kind remarks. Most helpful.

Eryl
I agree completely with your opening remarks. The rest of your comment is extremely useful to have. Thank you for it.

Karen
Your the prayer is more a prayer than that the priest intones is very insightful and helpful. Thank you for it.

Rachel
I know (or thought I knew) both of those poets, but neither of the poems, so thanks for giving me some research to do - and thanks for commenting.

ken
I can relate to that sentiment, exactly.

lakeviewer
An equally interesting comment, if I may say so. It adds to my knowledge of the poem, I think.

Linda
What a brilliant and enjoyable analogy. I really liked that! thank you very much.

Carl said...

Hi Dave,

I am drawn to this poem. I keep finding all these different layers to think about. Nice work!

Carl

Mark Kerstetter said...

I have nothing important to add to the conversation, just that this is a very lovely poem.

Dave King said...

Carl
Many thanks for that.

Mark
That's important! - To me, anyway!! Thanks.