Here is the 31st poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:
The night can be no less black
than you feared it was as a child
that is not the deal and I am not here
with news of God or angels
it is only what we are brave against, in the end
that makes us beautiful.
I have no faith, I hold you
and grip the chains of birth and death
that have dragged us in countless generations
out of the blackness of prehistory
towards the greater darkness of uncertainty
up ahead, where I crane my neck to see
but cannot say if there is any light there.
I know I gave up many times
any hope whatsoever of ending
this killing loneliness which we all harbour
it ate me from inside but even as I despaired
I touched some kind of bedrock there, uncovering
some part of us always refuses to the last
to admit that our lives might be futile
and it is that refusal itself, no matter how absurd
that defines us as what we are;
truly unlikely creatures, statistical anomalies
in the impoverished wilderness of space
proof of the supernatural.
If my own long wait in darkness
then the trust we must all place in life
that all our suffering and endeavour have purpose
cannot be hopeless.
This poem is a fairly self-explanatory search for the meaning of life (as usual!), with particular reference to the leap of faith required in order to find love. The title is a reference to the light of stars resembling pinpricks in a black sheet. In other words, I try to take a completely unsentimental and nihilistic approach and then see what is left over, if anything. There is hope: human beings themselves, our very existence and survival this far into the life of the universe, is the revelation and inspiration we seek. We are our own maps, our own bibles. As the Sufis teach, by seeking God we create him, as illustrated so beautifully in the 12th century allegory of The Conference Of The Birds, written by Farid ud-Din Attar, in which all the birds of the earth set out to find their mythical leader, and in the end after long hardship only thirty arrive at the lake whose still waters show in their reflection that they themselves have become what they seek (a Persian pun, “Simorgh” meaning “thirty birds”).
By way of accompanying painting therefore, whilst on the avian theme, we’ll go for Max Ernst’s magnificent “After Us Motherhood” (1927), which speaks of eternity and our hidden empathy with all of nature’s creatures.