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extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Flame for a lonely Man
Written for the dVerse Poets Open Link Night bartended by Joseph Hesch
It grew where few eyes witnessed it,
a bloodstained hand upon the land,
a rosebud in the wilderness,
flame of a cactus, hard as coal.
Alone and conscious of itself, it stood
with little to recommend it
(save its beauty),
Less still to worship it,
and nothing to which it could turn and say:
There stands a plant like me!
with love and light,
and humming with desire,
child of a green head crowned with thorns,
torn from her gutta-percha flesh,
cradled among her cruel spines,
it flourished with its Mary --
the desert sands their Bethlehem.
Only a lonely man
saw in the bloodstained hand
his twin, his earthly next of kin.
He was its saviour,
it was his.
Day after day
he travelled in the lonely places
creating in his mind a wilderness,
a barren land where that bright thing,
so finely knit by those sharp pins,
His mind reflected back the image of the rose.
And when the wilderness stood dry
and dust and sand and empty sky
condemned the lovely thing to die
he threw himself upon the thorns
to feed the roots with blood.
Common as cow dung the ways of the stranger,
yet rare to the plants as nitrates
in a desert running to dust.
Wise men travelled far to view
the all-exciting bloom,
yet overlooked with careless eyes
the green head crowned with thorns.
This is the umpteenth version of a poem that obviously is quite important to me -- otherwise it wouldn't have gone through umpteen versions! Strange to relate, though, I have not yet come to fully understand WHY it is so important. Maybe I'm just becoming obsessive in my old age....