God’s Memory

The stars of the Large Magellanic Cloud

By Warwick McFadyen

The robber of your free will does not exist.

                                                     Epictetus

A fleck of dust

floating

in a stream of pale light,

a gleam that catches

the turning eye

then vanishes until the next turning.

The unfolding of a forgotten caress;

shadow in the crease of an hour;

first wrench of death;

last grasp of life;

these are all new, eternally new,

to you.

 

How many voices have risen,

still rise, to you?

Yes, you listened

didn’t you to every whisper and roar.

The air swirling around the trees

was your breathing,

your gasps, your quick inhalations,

and, let’s be honest,

in the muffled breeze

your yawns.

How easy it is, rising to you.

Are we not doing it now?

Silence becomes you.

 

It settles in the shape of a plateau;

rim to the horizon

from where all things fall.

Here’s the hard truth:

you touch no one.

We are the noisy ones,

roaring and screeching.

We say it is to you, but it is to us.

Everything is to us,

Even you.

We were never the hollow men

stuffed with straw.

We were, we are, we will

always be the shadow men

fading in and out of the day

as the day fades

in and out of the night.

Grey suits us.

It is the colour of the eye

that has forgotten its past.

Yet we say we see you

and you us:

if we were you, what would

be better because of us?

 

Have you noticed the veins

in the skeletal leaves

as they, too, bow to earth

in the rustle of the windblown?

We take more from the rose

than we can ever give back.

The green stem stretches to the sun,

the petal unfolds from the darkness,

Yet we expect more of it

than it is its nature to give.

We understand nothing.

It lives despite us, and yet

we wish it to grow within our world

as our creation, and our memory.

What vanity becomes a creature

more than it does us?

Our words brush against your skin,

sweeping the surface

with dulled ambition.

We imagine you as only we can:

for if we don’t who would?

That scar on your right cheek

do you remember how it happened?

No matter, it fades in certain light

and really, it’s nothing to do with us.

You’re old enough to look after yourself.

 

A dream once lived within us

that we had met on a staircase.

Or more precisely, you were waiting

at the top of the landing

while we tried to climb the impossibly

narrow steps as they rose in

circles to you. And here’s

the thing, Dante, hell is up

concentrically,

vertically.

Up.

You could have at least let it be known

that the higher we climbed

the smaller the horizon.

But that’s not your way.

We have to think of everything.

Even death.

The multitudes of death

that reside behind the eye

clinging to the socket.

The clawed death that rots

without name or owner.

These things cross our mind

as we climb.

 

And, with each step, we pass

the glints of light

beneath us and store the memory within.

Waiting, till we reach the top,

so that we might give it to you.

Warwick McFadyen (From The Life and Times of Mr Agio)

 

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