Imprisoned in these wires of rain, I watch
This village stricken with a single street,
Each weathered shack leans on a wooden crutch,
Contented as a cripple with defeat.
Five years ago even poverty seemed sweet,
So azure and indifferent was this air,
So murmurous of oblivion the sea,
That any human action seemed a waste,
The place seemed born for being buried there.
The surf explodes
In scissor-birds hunting the usual fish,
The rain is muddying unpaved inland roads,
So personal grief melts the general wish.
The hospital is quiet in the rain.
A naked boy drives pigs into the bush.
The coast shudders with every surge. The beach
Admits a beaten heron. Filth and foam.
There in a belt of emerald light, a sail
Plunges and lifts between the crests of reef,
The hills are smoking in the vaporous light,
The rain seeps slowly to the core of grief.
It could not change its sorrows and be home.
It cannot change, though you become a man
Who would exchange compassion for a drink,
Now you are brought to where manhood began
Its separation from “the wounds that make you think.”
And as this rain puddles the sand, it sinks
Old sorrows in the gutter of the mind;
Where is that passionate hatred that would help
The black, the despairing, the poor, by speech alone?
The fury shakes like wet leaves in the wind,
The rain beats on a brain hardened to stone.
For there is a time in the tide of the heart, when
Arrived at its anchor of suffering, a grave
Or a bed, despairing in action, we ask,
O God, where is our home? For no one will save
The world from itself, though he walk among men,
On such shores where the form
Murmurs oblivion of action, who raise
No cry like herons stoned by the rain.
The passionate exiles believe it, but the heart
Is circled by sorrows, by its horror
And bitter devotion to home.
The romantic nonsense ends at the bowspirit, shearing
But never arriving beyond the reef-shore foam,
Or the rain cuts us off from heaven’s hearing.
Why blame the faith you have lost? Heaven remains
Where it is, in the hearts of these people,
In the womb of their church, though the rain’s
Shroud is drawn across its steeple.