The god was a god
My mother was a good listener.
She heard the dream of the steam engine
and our town was the first to build
a railway, along the river
from the town hall to the church.
It took seven minutes and we could all ride it
on Sunday afternoons.
Later, everyone had that dream.
But my mother was the first.
She visited the god more.
She would disappear for weeks
and return, well rested
with a new contraption for planting seeds
or a way to mix limestone and clay
for stronger walls. Everyone loved
my mother and her secrets
snatched from the mind of a sleeping god.
She told us
It is hard to sleep with a god around.
The air is settled, thick, and taking
She said it is a place at which
unquenchable forces come into perfect
conflict with each other
and hold the world static.
Nature knows not to move
in the presence of a god.
Moss, plants, trees cling with reverence to its arms,
legs, neck, frozen
closed eyes staring
at a point between the stars.
And all the air above
afraid to dance and scatter.
You can feel it fall like snow.
if you can let yourself drown
and drift, and remember
you will hear the secrets of the gods.
The secrets they whisper to themselves,
the smallest piece of the universe
the placement of the last molecule
the briefest thought from the most mortal of creatures
and such wondrous machines
as could ever be built.
My mother heard dreams of things
you wouldn’t believe—
the rising hope of a raindrop as it fell
or the tremor the chatter of mushrooms
brings to the forest floor
or the song of longing sung
by one mountain peak for the next,
chanted in quiet voices of rock.
If you placed a pencil on a sail
and let the wind blow it, take it
from the moment of its first breath in time
to its last fading exhale as the universe ends,
do you know what it would draw?
My mother does.
But in truth, my mother always preferred
plumbing to poetry
ravening in the delight of one wheel turning another.
When she heard, for the first time, the dream
of water pushed by twisted bands,
she didn’t speak for days
until she had the exemplar draining
the tin bath in the garden,
and when she first understood the drag of metal
within a week she was handing out
keychain compasses to every passerby.
She has heard so much more.
She has heard of worlds threaded on a fibre
from star to star
and cities floating above churning seas;
of lives lived in moments between centuries
sleeping frozen to cross black deserts
or time itself stopped, to witness
the suspension of an atom in quantum disbelief.
She has seen machines, those beautiful machines
so deliriously perfect
that just the thought made her tears flow.
At night, she sat for hours
looking up, imagining a sky
luminous and harmonious in action,
and a flowing earth, as smooth as thought
arching and falling, cradling,
carrying her to bliss in movement
and fading into
but mirages in the dew of dawn.
She wept more those days.
She so loved the god she gave
her only life to listening.
But now she knows, she knows
and only a god can know wonders,
return to the world,
and be content.
She goes now more often and stays longer
and when I see her
her eyes are crystal shards
chasing a future that dances too many steps ahead.
Chained to time
her heart is eaten away each day
and each night grows again
fed by the whispers of a god
reclaiming what she stole.