Our Lady of the Trap-Door Spider
Unpeopled paddocks, spindly tussocks, red earth horizons, space
companion, witness, drought, flood vie for conversation, plain skirts,
laughter tinkles at curses’ end, hopes unmouthed, stoic, like sheep.
Crows sigh distance onto my desk, texts, teachers I never see
amplify the silence, meagre talents, sparser possessions
packed, humped over platform and rail car, noise, crowds, unsettled sleep
until the city becomes home, watch-key women of the veil.
Nursing life’s hold, laying out its exits, the streets’ blow and wash,
sirens, soldiers, the chill of war, I meet a man of words, gusts
and multitudes, rosary in hand, the Green Door, Ginger Jar.
Married life, moneyed absences that economise closeness.
I remember the heaves and gasps of my dying father, crusts
in destiny’s eye, hewn months I carry babies in the womb
who but glimpse the light then rejoin it – loss forever renews
itself in fragile moments. The persuasion of other lives
distracts my attentions. They tumble, imagine triumphs, grow
troublesome. I gaze at him, he eyes the world, we at least share
believing, a shadow of otherness, somehow love survives
these tidal years. Craftsman’s tools, contemplative leather, heels nipped
by the next cohort, a welcome doorstep, motherly switchboard,
who else rehangs the rent curtain, opens the unseeing blind?
Just as the past’s tendrils begin to draw me in he departs
with unintended grace, pain invokes repose, eyes cast godwards.
Outside rituals, the salvation of small actions behind
closed doors, like the spider, my childhood friend. The silence
returns, the woods of earlier times thin around me, my own
timbers shrink to their roots, open inwards into purity of space.
My assertion on the earth less imposing, though no footnote
to his military headstone, recital book-true and hushed,
a slight insistence in your memory ever marks my place.
Other poems by Paul Scully