Poised

westport-ireland
Westport Harbour | Photo Sjaak Kempe at Flickr

Before the beginning

Unknown to us, there are moments
When crevices we cannot see open
For time to come alive with beginning.

As in autumn a field of corn
Knows when enough green has been inhaled
From the clay and under the skill
Of an artist breeze becomes gold in a day,

When the ocean still as a mirror
Of a sudden takes a sinister turn
To rise in a mountain of wave
That would swallow a village.

How to a flock of starlings
Scattered, at work on grass,
From somewhere, a signal comes
And suddenly as one, they describe
A geometric shape in the air.

When the audience becomes still
And the soprano lets the silence deepen,
In that slowed holding, the whole aria
Hovers nearer, then alights
On the wings of breath
Poised to soar into song.

These inklings were first prescribed
The morning we met in Westport
And I was left with such sweet time
Wondering if between us something
Was deciding to begin or not.

John O’Donohue
Conamara Blues

This world is full of exquisite beauty. Some of it lived in the soul of the late poet John O’Donohue, and he embodied it. If I had to name one literary hero, this is my man. I repeatedly turn to a film of the gentle giant, seated in his armchair beside a peat hearth, notebook and pen in hand. His poetry is so exquisite it’s painful sometimes. Familiar, it catches me unawares.

My eyes open with new willingness to see the world afresh – open to ‘Before the Beginning’ and everything that comes after it. Some days I regret I can’t head down to The Burren and find him there, attentive, laughing, listening, warm and knowing. And then I chance again upon his work and find myself in his company here and now. Poised to soar into song.

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